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, 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, unless earlier revoked. 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)).

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, unless earlier revoked. (Amended 11 May 2020 to allow for use of an image of the prescriber’s signature when preparing the original paper prescription).

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.


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

SafeScript phoneline inactive

The SafeScript team is contributing to the DHHS response to COVID-19 and to enable this, the SafeScript phoneline will not be operating for the immediate term.

For step by step information on registering and using SafeScript, please visit Help Topics section.

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

If you have general queries on SafeScript, please access the comprehensive FAQ information available on this website providing detailed information for all health professionals and community members.

We thank you for your understanding during this time.

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.

GP Clinical Advisors, who have received comprehensive training in pain management, addiction and mental health, are available across Victoria to provide secondary consultations and mentoring.

Please call 1800 812 804 and ask to be referred to your local GP Clinical Advisor.

For more information go to the DACAS website or email:

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SafeScript latest updates

SafeScript, a new system providing prescription information to enable the safer supply of high risk medicines, is now available statewide.

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