Department of Health

Medical practitioners are authorised under the Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (the Act) to obtain, possess, use or supply scheduled poisons for the lawful practice of their profession, i.e. for the medical treatment of patients under their care.

The Poisons Standard lists all scheduled poisons and contains standards with which medical practitioners must comply, including the labelling requirements for dispensed medicines.

The Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2017 contain the majority of regulatory requirements, relating to scheduled poisons, with which medical practitioners must comply.

Safe, lawful and appropriate treatment

In addition to the requirement to ensure treatment is lawful, medical practitioners are required to meet professional standards that are contained in other legislation and that are determined by the Medical Board of Australia.

Medical practitioners should not issue a prescription or otherwise authorise treatment without satisfying themselves that it is safe, appropriate and lawful to treat the patient with the medicine. Issuing a prescription or otherwise authorising treatment, simply because another practitioner has done so, is unlikely to satisfy the regulatory requirement to take 'all reasonable steps' to ensure there is a therapeutic need.

This website contains a range of forms, which medical practitioners will require if they wish to apply for permits to prescribe Schedule 8 poisons, including pharmacotherapy (opioid-replacement therapy) for opioid-dependent patients, or warrants to prescribe restricted Schedule 4 poisons (e.g. ovulatory stimulants, retinoids). To access the online version of these forms, refer to the section for Commonly used online forms.

This website contains a range of documents, in the section for Documents to print or download, which summarise the legislative requirements and issues that relate to medical practitioners plus documents that relate to multiple categories of health practitioner. These documents include the following:

Medical practitioners - key requirements in Victoria: includes basic information relating to:

  • limits to a medical practitioner's authorisation
  • general rules related to issuing prescriptions
  • opioid-replacement therapy
  • Schedule 4 poisons with special prescribing restrictions, e.g. ovulatory stimulants, retinoids
  • self-administration and prescribing for personal use is prohibited

Schedule 8 permits - key requirements in Victoria: includes information relating to:

  • when a permit is required to prescribe a Schedule 8 medicine
  • exceptions to permit requirements
  • limits and conditions included on permits

Psychostimulants - special Schedule 8 poisons for ADHD and narcolepsy: includes information relating to:

  • permit requirements that relate to special Schedule 8 poisons, including dexamphetamine and related medications
  • exceptions and provisions to permit requirements for paediatricians and psychiatrists
  • key issues relating to permit requirements for general practitioners

Treating a drug-dependent person: includes information relating to:

  • obtaining clinical advice
  • permit and notification requirements
  • opioid-replacement therapy
  • obtaining information about individual patients

In addition to the preceding documents, which are intended primarily for medical practitioners, the following documents contain information that relates to multiple categories of health practitioner:

  • Possession and storage: includes regulatory requirements and matters to be notified to authorities
  • Supply, administration and records: includes software and recording requirements, destruction of Schedule 8 poisons and labelling requirements for dispensed medicines
  • Prescribing: includes regulatory requirements for issuing prescriptions, writing chart instructions, authorising administration and providing verbal instructions in an emergency
  • Handwritten and computer-generated prescriptions: includes details of mandatory components of prescriptions
  • All reasonable steps and other key terms: includes an explanation of the meaning and application of the subjective term 'all reasonable steps', which appears in several regulations, and how it might be applied to certain situations, including 'patient delivered partner therapy' and mandatory checking of the SafeScript database.

Reviewed 07 October 2015


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