Key points on image-based dispensing


PDL says it has received a number of calls from pharmacists about supplying certain medicines via a digital image of a script

PDL has issued an update for its Queensland members about recent changes to state regulations that allow for the supply of some medicines in this manner.

“While this information has been distributed by representative bodies, several calls to PDL indicate that some pharmacists may not be fully informed of the considerations of this supply process,” PDL says.

Key points include:

  • No limitation on how the image is transmitted electronically e.g. email, message service, etc.
  • The prescription must have the prescriber’s signature. No allowance for a digital or electronic signature.
  • Digital images MUST be transmitted directly from prescriber to pharmacy. Digital images of prescriptions presented by the public are not allowed. Transfer of a digital image from one pharmacy to another in the case of a supply problem is not allowed.
  • The transmission of the digital image of a prescription can occur for all S4 and S8 medicines. HOWEVER, the paper prescription for S8 and certain S4 medicines must be sent to the pharmacy by the prescriber within seven days of sending the digital image
  • The S4 medicines requiring the provision of the paper prescription include anabolic steroids and restricted drugs of dependency. This includes benzodiazepines (but not Z-drugs), codeine-combination products, phentermine – see Appendix 8 of HDPR for the full list.
  • The temporary exemption from sending paper prescriptions is retrospective to 26th March 2020, when the PBS special arrangement legislation was enacted. This exemption will continue until 30th September 2020 or as extended by the Commonwealth.
  • Repeats ordered on a digital image prescription must be retained at the dispensing pharmacy. Alternative arrangements may need to be offered if retention of repeats at the original pharmacy is not acceptable to the patient. Prescribers may not have alerted patients to this aspect of supply. Therefore, pharmacists need to proactively and empathetically advise the patient of this requirement as early as possible to minimise misunderstanding, dissatisfaction or complaint.
  • It is recommended that prescribers annotate the prescription with an indication it is sent as a digital image and the method of transmission by which they send it.
  • Pharmacists must confirm the bona fides of all prescriptions including those sent as a digital image. This may be achieved if the pharmacist is familiar with aspects such as the prescriber’s signature AND contact details. Otherwise, reasonable steps need to be taken to confirm the validity of the prescription. This is also beneficial to ensure the prescriber understands their obligations in sending S8 and certain S4 prescriptions and they have correct postal details of the pharmacy. PDL would recommend that confirmation of validity is always documented.
  • The supply of medicines from a digital image is allowed for PBS and non-PBS medicines.
  • These arrangements include hospital prescribers and dispensing from digital images in hospital pharmacies.

PDL also directs members to the Fact Sheets provided by Queensland Health for pharmacists and prescribers: see Image based prescriptions – information for pharmacists; and Image based prescriptions – information for prescribers.

PDL members can call 1300 854 838 to speak to a Professional Officer for immediate advice and incident support, 24/7, Australia-wide.

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1 Comment

  1. JimT
    11/06/2020

    the sooner we get universal regulations throughout Australia the better

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