Changed medicine regulatory requirements for health practitioners during COVID-19 pandemic

To facilitate the supply of medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic and to reduce regulatory burden on prescribers and pharmacists the following public health emergency orders (PHEO) have come into effect. For further information about the public health emergency orders, prescribers and pharmacists should read the advice documents and gazette notices.

PHEO #1 - Expired (Continued dispensing during the bushfires PHEO)

PHEO #2 - Public health emergency order (Gazette No. S 158 Thursday 26 March 2020 (PDF)) for emergency supply without a prescription to people affected by COVID-19 until midnight 27 September 2020. The Order PHEO #2 is extended (General Gazette Number G36 Dated 10 September 2020 page 1706) until 27 March 2021 (date inclusive) unless earlier revoked.

PHEO #3 - Public health emergency order (Gazette No. S 158 Thursday 26 March 2020 (PDF)) to prescribe Schedule 8 medicines without a Schedule 8 permit for non drug-dependent patients is in place until midnight 27 September 2020. Prescribers should check advice for further details about Special Schedule 8 permits. Amended by PHEO #6 to remove a 30-day prescribing limit for special Schedule 8 poisons (Gazette No. S 277 Wednesday 10 June 2020 (PDF)) The Order PHEO #6 is extended (General Gazette Number G36 Dated 10 September 2020 page 1708) until 27 March 2021 (date inclusive) unless earlier revoked.

PHEO #4 - Public health emergency order (amended Gazette No. S 229 Monday 11 May 2020 (PDF)) for supply on a digital image of an original paper prescription transmitted by the prescriber until midnight 6 October 2020. Amended 11 May 2020 to allow for use of an image of the prescriber’s signature when preparing the original paper prescription. The Order PHEO #4 is extended (General Gazette Number G36 Dated 10 September 2020 page 1707) until 27 March 2021 (date inclusive) unless earlier revoked.

PHEO #5 - Public health emergency order (Gazette No. S 201 Tuesday 21 April 2020 (PDF)) to authorise registered paramedics employed by Ambulance Victoria who have successfully completed a program of study approved by the Chief Health Officer to administer the 2020 influenza vaccine to Ambulance Victoria operational staff members until midnight 31 August 2020, unless earlier revoked.

PHEO #7 - Public health emergency order (Gazette No. S 277 Wednesday 10 June 2020 (PDF)) to authorise a registered pharmacist during a serious medicine shortage, to sell or supply a specified substitute medicine contrary to the instructions on the prescription.  It applies to a serious shortage of Metformin modified-release (also known as extended-release or XR) 500mg tablet until midnight 1 August 2020. PHEO #7 is extended for Metformin modified-release (also known as extended-release or XR) 500mg tablet from 1 August 2020 until 31 December 2020 (dates inclusive) unless earlier revoked (Gazette No. S 378 Wednesday 29 July 2020). 

To manage medicines in short supply during the COVID-19 pandemic, Orders prohibiting or restricting the sale, supply or use of certain medicines may be introduced.  The following Orders have come into effect.  For further information about a prohibition or restriction Order, prescribers and pharmacists should read the gazette notice.

Order – Restricting the sale, supply or use of Hydroxychloroquine (Gazette No. S 211 Wednesday 29 April 2020 (PDF)) to restrict initiation of treatment with hydroxychloroquine to certain types of medical specialist; to enable other medical practitioners to continue treatment initiated by the medical specialist; to enable any medical practitioner to continue treatment for a registered indication that was initiated prior to 29 April 2020; to restrict the treatment of hydroxychloroquine to dentists who are oral medicine specialists; to not impede the treatment of patients in registered clinical trials. The restriction commences 29 April 2020 and is in place for 12 weeks (until 22 July 2020) unless earlier revoked. The Order is extended (Gazette No. G27 Thursday 9 July 2020 Page 1310) from 23 July 2020 until 22 October 2020 (dates inclusive) unless earlier revoked.

Downloads

Advice for prescribers - COVID-19

Flyer for prescribers - Digital Images of Prescriptions

Advice to pharmacists - COVID-19

Flyer for pharmacists - Digital Images of Prescriptions

Limits on dispensing and sales of prescription and over-the-counter medicines – TGA

Treating a drug-dependent person -  key requirements in Victoria

Using SafeScript – most commonly asked questions for prescribers and pharmacists


Medicines and poisons phoneline inactive

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is working around the clock with health services, the Commonwealth and international agencies to respond to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and to keep the Victorian community safe.

The Medicines and Poisons Branch (MPR) is contributing to the DHHS response. To enable this the MPR phoneline will not be operating for the immediate term.

If you have issues registering with SafeScript or logging in SafeScript, please contact SafeScript technical support on 1800 723 379.

If your query relates to drugs and poisons legislative controls in Victoria, please refer to the Licences and permits to possess (& possibly supply) scheduled substances page. Online forms are available at this location.

If your query relates to an urgent matter for a licence or permit application for an entity to purchase medicines or if you are reporting concerns about possible contraventions of drugs and poisons legislation please email dpcs@dhhs.vic.gov.au. We will respond to your query earliest convenience.

Schedule 8 permits and correspondence

From Monday 23 March 2020, Schedule 8 permits and correspondence will not be faxed to medical clinics. Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners are able to access their Schedule 8 permits and correspondence relating to a Schedule 8 permit application via SafeScript.

GP Clinical Advisory Service

The GP Clinical Advisory Service is a peer to peer service helping Victorian GPs support patients with high-risk prescription medication concerns and complex needs.