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Schedule 8 medicine treatment

The use of schedule 8 medicines in South Australia is regulated to help ensure that treatment remains available to those that need it while trying to minimise the risk for misuse, diversion and the development of dependence.

Consumers should be aware of the legal issues and their responsibilities if they are receiving treatment with schedule 8 medicines.

What are schedule 8 drugs (drugs of dependence) and why are they classified this way?

Schedule 8 drugs or drugs of dependence are prescription medicines that have a recognised therapeutic need but also a higher risk of misuse, abuse and dependence.

They are classified this way to ensure patients have access to the right treatment while minimising the potential for misuse and the development of dependence.

Treatment with schedule 8 drugs and what you need to know (from a legal perspective)

Treatment with schedule 8 drugs should be organised through only one prescriber. Your doctor will need to gain permission from the Minister for Health and Ageing (through the Drugs of Dependence Unit) to prescribe schedule 8 drugs for treatment exceeding two months. The permission is subject to conditions and your doctor should discuss these conditions with you to ensure you are aware of your responsibilities.

What does your doctor need to do if you need treatment with schedule 8 drugs?

Your doctor will need to send information relating to your medical condition and treatment with schedule 8 drugs to the Drugs of Dependence Unit in order to gain permission to prescribe.

What is an authority, why does your doctor need to apply for one and what do they mean (conditions, and limits to prescribing and by whom)?

An authority is a legal document granted by the Minister for Health and Ageing which allows your doctor to treat you with specified drugs of dependence.

Your doctor needs to apply for an authority to legally prescribe drugs of dependence in accordance with the South Australian Controlled Substances Act 1984.

An authority will contain conditions of when prescribing a drug of dependence can occur and what dosage and quantity are suitable.  Unless you are being treated in hospital, you should only seek drugs of dependence from your authorised doctor.

Some standard authority conditions include:

  • do not increase your dose above the dose that the doctor has prescribed
  • do not take or administer the drug in a way other than as directed
  • do not obtain supply of drugs of dependence from doctors other than your authorised doctor
  • do not share your medication with others
  • do not take any other drugs that may affect you treatment with drugs of dependence without your doctors knowledge and consent

Authorities may be subject to further conditions and your doctor should discuss the conditions of the authority with you to ensure you are aware of your responsibilities.

What to do if your doctor is away and you are due for a new prescription?

Another doctor working in the same clinic as your authorised doctor is covered under the authority to prescribe drugs of dependence for you in their absence.

What is the difference between a state authority and a Medicare Australia Authority?

A state authority describes the conditions under which prescribing a drug of dependence must occur and is required for compliance with state legislation.

A Medicare Australia authority is for the subsidy of medications under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Why you cannot provide your medication to someone else

Your doctor prescribes medication for you after taking into account your individual situtaion, including your existing health conditions and potential conflicts with other medications that you are taking. A drug that works for you may be unsafe for someone else. Providing your medicine to someone else may be harmful to their health and in some instances may be fatal.

It is illegal to supply your prescription drug to another person.

How to appeal administrative decisions made by the Drugs of Dependence Unit in relation to treatment with drugs of dependence

Patients have four options to appeal an administrative decision made
by the Drugs of Dependence Unit in regards to treatment with drugs of
dependence. Please note that these options are in regard to the administrative
decision made by the Drugs of Dependence Unit. If you are unsatisfied with the clinical decisions made by treating doctors, patients can contact the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

For more information on your appeal options, see the Patients appeal options on drugs of dependence treatment authorities page.

Storing your drugs of dependence medications

Prescriptions and drugs must be stored in a locked container that prevents wrongful access. It is a condition of the authority that replacement supplies will not be provided for lost or stolen prescriptions or drugs.

What to do with unused or expired medicines

Unused or expired medicines should be returned to your local pharmacy for destruction.

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