Pharmaceutical Services

Emergency supply of prescription only medicines by pharmacists during bushfires

The Pharmaceutical Services section of the Health Protection Service (HPS) ensures the safe supply of medicines, poisons and therapeutic goods to the ACT community.

We are responsible for conducting various regulatory activities that help ensure medicines or poisons are prescribed, stored and supplied in line with local legislation. This includes responsibly regulating community pharmacy ownership and premises in the ACT.

We also distribute information about medicines and therapeutic goods recalls across the ACT community to ensure their protection from any harm associated with the use of sub-standard or unsafe products.

Find out more about each of our services

For more information, please contact us on 02 5124 9208 or

Our postal address is: Pharmaceutical Services, Health Protection Service Locked Bag 5005, Weston Creek ACT 2611. Fax 02 5124 9309.

Find us at Howard Florey Centenary House, 25 Mulley street, Holder ACT 2611


Emergency supply of prescription only medicines by pharmacists during bushfires

A temporary Standing Order has been issued by the ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman to enable supply of designated prescription only medicines by pharmacists without a prescription, to support people directly or indirectly affected by the bushfire crisis in NSW and other states.  Prescribers and pharmacists are encouraged to read this Information sheet as well as the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods (Temporary Authority – Supply by pharmacists of designated Schedule 4 medicines without prescription) CHO Standing Order 2020 (No 1).

This Standing Order remains in place now until 31 March 2020. The Federal Department of Health arrangements commence from Monday 13 January 2020 until 31 March 2020 and have immediate effect in the ACT.

Information about Coronavirus

The ACT Chief Health Officer has provided information to community pharmacists on 28 January 2020 for people presenting with flu-like symptoms or suspected cases of coronavirus. Further information about novel coronavirus is also available on our website.

Amendments to the ACT Controlled Medicines Prescribing Standards

Changes have been made to the ACT Controlled Medicines Prescribing Standards (the Standards). The Standards are made under the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 for the purposes of establishing the conditions and criteria under which a prescriber may be approved to prescribe a controlled medicine in the ACT. 

The changes relate to Category 5- Psychostimulants to address the use of stimulants for the treatment of narcolepsy, treatment resistant depression and binge eating disorder. The changes also include more flexible arrangements for prescribers to apply for approval by drug for codeine for intestinal conditions (under Chapter 1).

The amended Standards can be found on the ACT Legislation Register

New depot buprenorphine products

Two new depot buprenorphine products are now available in Australia for treatment of opioid dependence. There are important safety and funding restrictions that prescribers and pharmacists need to be aware of before supplying this product. 

Prescribers and pharmacists are encouraged to read this Information sheet before applying to prescribe or dispensing these products. Further information about Opioid Maintenance Treatment in the ACT may also be found here.

Controlled medicines storage consultation

ACT Health is undertaking targeted consultation with key stakeholders on proposed amendments to the ACT controlled medicines storage requirements.

Under the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 (MPTG Act), controlled medicines must be stored in a compliant medicine cabinet or safe. These requirements exist to reduce the risk that controlled medicines are unlawfully removed from the possession of prescribers or pharmacists and diverted for misuse in the community.

Controlled medicines are Schedule 8 medicines as defined by the Commonwealth Poisons Standard. Examples include morphine, oxycodone, dexamfetamine and alprazolam. 

ACT Health has identified several opportunities for improvement to the requirements for controlled medicines storage in the ACT.

An Issues and Options paper has been developed. Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback from their organisation by email to or by completing the online survey that can be accessed at:
Submissions are requested by 15 November 2019. 

Real time prescription monitoring

From March 2019, a new secure real time prescription monitoring website called DAPIS Online Remote Access (DORA) is available for health professionals. DORA allows prescribers and pharmacists to look up information about their patient relating to their use of controlled medicines.

DORA is intended to support clinical decision making by enabling health professionals to better identify and manage patients who may be exhibiting signs of drug dependency, such as ‘doctor shopping’.

DORA has been introduced to improve the safety of ACT patients by giving prescribers and pharmacists valuable information before they write or dispense a prescription for a controlled medicine.

For more information about DORA for patients, prescribers and pharmacists, please visit ACT Health’s Real Time Prescription Monitoring webpage.

Updated ACT Pharmacy Vaccination Standards

In the ACT, eligible pharmacists can provide certain vaccinations to patients. Pharmacist vaccinations are aimed at complementing existing immunisation services and improving public access to immunisations in the ACT.

From April 2019, changes have been made to the ACT Pharmacist Vaccination Standards to:

  • allow pharmacists to administer vaccinations to patients aged 16 years or older (previously 18 years or older);
  • remove specific brand names of vaccines to allow pharmacists to access any brand of an approved vaccine and facilitate a pilot program in 2019 to enable pharmacists to supply National Immunisation Program (NIP) funded influenza vaccines in accordance with ACT Health requirements;
  • increase the reporting frequency to ACT Health for pharmacies participating in the 2019 pilot program for NIP funded influenza vaccines; and
  • require pharmacists to report vaccinations using the Australian Immunisation Register.

Pilot Program – NIP funded influenza vaccines for people aged 65 and older

During the 2019 influenza season, ACT Health will be operating a pilot program with participating pharmacies to provide NIP funded influenza vaccinations for patients aged 65 years and over. 

For more information for pharmacies about this program, please see the Pharmacist Vaccinations webpage.

More information about influenza and staying healthy in winter is available on the  ACT Health Winter Wellbeing webpage.

Banned sports substances

It has come to the attention of the Health Protection Service (HPS) that sports supplements labelled as containing banned substances are being sold in the ACT primarily through retail supplement stores.

Banned substances include selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), cardarine, tadalafil, oxedrine, melatonin, clomifene, l-dopa, DHEA and phenibut. These substances are associated with important health and safety concerns.

It is illegal for supplement stores to supply these banned substances. It is also illegal for consumers to possess some of these substances without a prescription.

If you are taking a supplement which is labelled as containing a banned substance, you should stop taking it immediately. If you are concerned about your health, please contact your general practitioner.

The HPS is currently investigating this issue further and will be testing a number of products. If you have information to support this investigation, please contact the Pharmaceutical Services Section of the HPS on (02) 5124 9208.

Banned substances in sports supplements

Page last updated on: 3 Mar 2020