Controlled medicines

The Health Protection Service (HPS) has a critical role in promoting the safe and effective use of controlled medicines in the ACT.

The Health Protection Service (HPS) has a critical role in promoting the safe and effective use of controlled medicines in the ACT.

What are controlled medicines?

Controlled medicines are listed under Schedule 8 of the Commonwealth Poisons Standard. Examples of these medicines include morphine, oxycodone, dexamphetamine and alprazolam. The ACT adopts the Poisons Standard under the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008.

The Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 (MPTG Regulatory) establishes the regulatory framework for prescribing and supplying controlled medicines in the ACT.

This Framework gives the ACT a unique opportunity to be a leader in reducing harm associated with the abuse, misuse and diversion of these medicines.

Applying for Chief Health Officer Approval

Prescribers must have approval from the Chief Health Office (CHO) to prescribe controlled medicine for a drug-dependent patient or for ongoing treatment of more than 2 months in the ACT.

You can submit the Application for approval to prescribe a controlled medicine to HPS. We can process a complete application within 1 to 2 working days.

Please tick the URGENT box in the top right corner of the application if you need an urgent approval. We can consider urgent applications within 1 working day.

Controlled Medicines Prescribing Standards

The ACT Controlled Medicines Prescribing Standards support a flexible approach to the prescription of controlled medicines.

The Standards allow you to seek approval to prescribe a therapeutic class of controlled medicine for patients. You can do this through a category approval system (Category Approval) or you can seek approval to prescribe by drug, form and strength (Approval by Drug).

Opioid Maintenance Treatment

Only endorsed prescribers may commence a patient on opioid maintenance treatment or prescribe for more than 5 stable patients at the same time.

Non-endorsed prescribers can only prescribe methadone or buprenorphine for up to 5 drug dependent patients.

Category 3 of the ACT Controlled Medicines Prescribing Standards states conditions and criteria for prescribing methadone and buprenorphine under an approval. You are also required to prescribe these drugs in line with the National Guidelines for Medication Assisted Treatment of Opioid Dependence. Compliance with the Opioid Maintenance Treatment in the ACT: Local Policies and Procedures is required.

If you would like to become an endorsed prescriber to treat drug dependency in the ACT, you must undertake ACT Health training. These requirements are outlined in the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods (Guidelines for treatment of opioid dependency) Approval. Please submit an Application for Endorsement to Treat Drug Dependency to us.

Pharmacies

Community pharmacies in the ACT must be licensed to dispense methadone or buprenorphine for treatment of drug dependency. Pharmacists can apply to HPS to obtain an Opioid Dependency Treatment Centre Licence. You can apply for this by submitting an Application for Opioid Dependency Treatment Centre Licence (Pharmacist).

You must also dispense methadone or buprenorphine in line with the National Guidelines for Medication Assisted Treatment of Opioid Dependence. You should also comply with the Opioid Maintenance Treatment in the ACT: Local Policies and Procedures wherever possible.

All pharmacists dispensing treatment must successfully complete training for the safe administration and dispensing of opioid maintenance treatment. These requirements are outlined in the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods (Guidelines for treatment of opioid dependency) Approval.

You can access local contacts and program related information from the Alcohol and Drug Services webpage.

Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods (MPTG) Regulation

The MPTG Regulation defines a drug dependent person for controlled medicine purposes as someone with a condition who demonstrates the following as a result from their use of medicine or substances:

  • Impaired control
  • Drug-seeking behaviour that suggests impaired control

They are also defined as someone who is likely to experience symptoms of mental or physical distress or disorder as a result of the cessation of medicine or substances.

Page last updated on: 30 Sep 2018