S8 meds rules too complex between states

tablets and glass of water

Difference between state and territory regulations on S8 medicines create difficulties for prescribers, pharmacists and patients, an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia says.

“The establishment of a national registration agency, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), in 2010 meant that Australian health professionals were allowed to freely practise in any state or territory,” the authors, Andy C Hua, Finna Shen and Xiaoting Ge, write.

“Greater mobility of health practitioners between jurisdictions has been accompanied by new problems.

“First, to the best of our knowledge, prescribers newly relocated to a different state or who practise across more than one jurisdiction have no single, clear resource that documents the slight nuances in each state or territory’s regulations.”

Legal requirements for prescribing S8 drugs are not accessible in a prescriber-friendly manner, they say.

“Pharmacists can guide prescribers on the regulations and legality of prescriptions; yet the same confusion applies to pharmacists who move interstate.

“Second, travelling patients bringing an S8 prescription interstate might discover that a legal prescription in one state is not legal in another.

“The dispensing pharmacist would need to contact the medical practitioner in the patient’s home state to find a solution.

“If this could not be done, treatment would be delayed until a local prescription was obtained from a medical practitioner in the state the patient was visiting.”

The authors say it may be impractical to unify health care legislation to deal with the complexity around S8 medicines, but it could be possible for all jurisdictions to maintain individual regulations but unify the S8 legal requirements.

“Given that S4 requirements are standardised between the different states and territories, why are S8 requirements treated differently?” they write.

“For the moment, resources highlighting state-based S8 requirements for prescribers should be made readily available.

“A comprehensive quick-reference guide… minimises the ambiguity in legal requirements for health practitioners, and its use may also reduce the amount of time spent by pharmacists and doctors in correcting non-compliant prescriptions.”

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