The South Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Pharmacy Service (SAVAD-PS) provides the safe supply, education about, and disposal of voluntary assisted dying medication.
Part of SA Pharmacy, the SAVAD-PS works with the South Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service and medical practitioners to ensure continuity of care and support for people accessing voluntary assisted dying in South Australia.
SAVAD-PS is available statewide and can visit people who have a Self-administration Permit or medical practitioners with a Practitioner Administration Permit anywhere in South Australia to provide necessary information and supply the voluntary assisted dying medication.
SAVAD-PS is responsible for:
- supply of the voluntary assisted dying medication kit
- educating a person accessing voluntary assisted dying about the administration process
- educating the Contact Person about their responsibilities to return the medication
- educating medical practitioners about the medication-related aspects of the pathway
- facilitating the return and safe disposal of any unused voluntary assisted dying medication
- preparing and maintaining medication-related resources
- supporting healthcare services in the preparation and maintenance of medication-related governance
Supply of the medication kit
The voluntary assisted dying medication can only be accessed if a Self-administration Permit or a Practitioner Administration Permit has been issued.
A Self-administration Permit authorises specific individuals to undertake the following roles in relation to the voluntary assisted dying medication:
- the Coordinating Medical Practitioner specified in the permit is authorised to prescribe and supply the medication to the person
- the person who is the subject of the permit is authorised to obtain, possess, store and, if they choose, self-administer the medication
- the Contact Person nominated by the person is authorised to possess, store, carry and transport the medication for the purposes of returning the medication to SAVAD-PS for disposal.
Under a Practitioner Administration Permit, the Coordinating Medical Practitioner is authorised to:
- prescribe, possess and supply the medication to the person, and
- administer the medication to the person at their request, in the presence of a witness.
A person who has a Self-administration Permit or their nominee (in the case of someone with communication difficulties) will need to contact the SAVAD-PS directly to arrange supply for self-administration. During this consultation, the pharmacist will discuss arrangements for how the medication will be delivered to this person.
For practitioner administration, the person accessing voluntary assisted dying will be instructed to discuss supply arrangements with their Coordinating Medical Practitioner. Once a suitable time and location for administration has been determined, the Coordinating Medical Practitioner will contact the SAVAD-PS to arrange supply.
When the pharmacist dispenses the voluntary assisted dying medication, they must provide the person accessing voluntary assisted dying with the following information:
- details about the prescribed medication and how it should be administered
- the storage requirements for the dispensed medication
- that the person is under no obligation to administer the medication
- that the person or Contact Person must return any unused medication to SAVAD-PS if the person decides not to self-administer or changes to a Practitioner Administration Permit
- that the Contact Person must return any unused medication to SAVAD-PS after the person has died.
The voluntary assisted dying medication is supplied in the form of a kit containing the medication in a locked box, written information and any other equipment required
Once dispensed by the Pharmacist, the voluntary assisted dying medication must be stored in the locked box provided. The key to the locked box should be held securely by the person named in the Self-administration Permit.
For self-administration, the person accessing voluntary assisted dying is advised to inform their nominated Contact Person of the storage location.
Return of unused or remaining medication
The Review Board must provide information to a person’s nominated Contact Person within seven working days of being notified of the death by the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This information must:
- set out the requirement for the Contact Person to return any unused or remaining medication to SAVAD-PS, and
- outline support services available to assist the Contact Person to fulfil this requirement.
The Contact Person is required to return the voluntary assisted dying medication to SAVAD-PS within 15 calendar days of the person’s death. This can be arranged by contacting SAVAD-PS.
SAVAD-PS will safely dispose of unused medication as soon as practicable.
SAVAD-PS can be contacted by email and phone during standard business hours (9.00 am to 5.00 pm).