Prescription medications

Use, documentation, storage and destruction

Medical practitioners have significant responsibilities in prescribing medication under drug and poisons legislation, whether it be Schedule 4 or 8 medications.

These medications must be stored, documented, prescribed and disposed of in line with detailed legislative requirements, which can vary between medications and locations. 

The addictive qualities and potential for misuse of Schedule 8 and some Schedule 4 medications, means that there are additional regulatory requirements around their use.  There are also certain medications that a practitioner cannot prescribe, dispense, obtain or possess unless they are a specialist in a particular field, or unless they have regulatory approval.

Issues which we encounter in advising and assisting our members and policyholders include:
  • Inadequate understanding of Schedule 8 prescribing obligations
  • Not suspecting potential medication misuse by patients
  • Prescribing certain Schedule 4 and/or 8 medications without appropriate clinical indication.
You should familarise yourself with prescribing requirements in your own State or Territory, and contact the relevant regulatory authority when in doubt. 
Opioids, chronic pain and the bigger picture
RACGP Standards for general practices (4th edition): Safe and quality use of medicines
PBS Prescription Shopping Programme
Opioid prescribing - Useful resources

SA: SA Health - Medicines and Drugs / Legal control over medicines / Drugs of dependence
NSW: NSW Health - prescription requirements and resources / Pharmaceutical Services
QLD: QLD Health - Medicines and Poisons
VIC: VIC Health - Medical Practitioners and medicines control / Drugs and poisons regulation
WA: WA Health - Medicines and poisons
TAS: TAS Health - prescribing guidelines for health professionals
ACT: ACT Health - Pharmaceutical Services / Controlled Medications
NT: NT DoH - Medical practitioners and schedule 8 medications

Insurance policies are issued by Medical Insurance Australia Pty Ltd.  MIGA has not taken into account your personal objectives or situation.  Before you make any decisions about our policies, please review the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (which can be found here) and consider your own needs.