Schedule 8 medicines must be available to patients with a genuine therapeutic need. However, Schedule 8 medicines are also drugs of dependence and there is a need to minimise the potential for concurrent prescribing and successful drug-seeking activities. For this reason, medical practitioners and nurse practitioners might need to obtain a treatment permit to prescribe Schedule 8 medicines in a safe and lawful manner. Some Schedule 8 medicines may be prescribed without first obtaining a permit but, in some circumstances, a permit must be obtained before the medicine may be prescribed.
A Schedule 8 treatment permit might be required regardless of whether a medicine is prescribed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or as a private (non-PBS) prescription.
A limited number of Schedule 4 medicines have special risks associated with their use so that treatment may only be initiated by a medical practitioner with the appropriate qualifications and expertise. Specialist practitioners must hold a warrant, issued by the department, to prescribe these medicines for any patients.