#269 Update on the Public Health Emergency Orders related to supply of medicines
3 March 2021
The Victorian Department of Health recently contacted AMA Victoria about three existing Public Health Emergency Orders that are set to expire on 27 March 2021. They were put in place to facilitate telehealth and reduce regulatory burden:
- PHEO #2 Emergency supply of prescription medicines for people affected by COVID-19: pharmacists are able to supply one-month supply of prescription medicines without a prescription to people who are unable to see their GP
- PHEO #4 Supply of prescription medicines on a digital image of the prescription: pharmacists are able to supply prescription medicines on a digital imagine of the paper prescription
- PHEO #6 S8 permit requirements: prescribers prescribing for non drug-dependent patients will not need a Schedule 8 permit as long as they check SafeScript (mandatory since 1 April 2020).
A decision is yet to be made regarding PHEO #2 and PHEO #4 as both orders are closely tied to Commonwealth funding. The department have been engaging with the Commonwealth about these provisions and whether the special funding arrangements will continue to apply. The department anticipates a decision being made by mid-March, so that doctors can be informed as soon as possible before the orders expire.
The department has made the decision to allow PHEO #6 (Schedule 8 permit requirements) to lapse after 27 March. This means that Schedule 8 permit requirements for non-drug dependent patients will resume on 28 March 2021. However, the permit reductions made mandatory under SafeScript use are still in place. The following permit exemptions apply from 28 March 2021 onwards.
Schedule 8 permit exemptions for non-drug dependent patients – S8 permits are no longer required if the patient is non-drug dependent and one of the below scenarios is applicable (and the prescriber checks SafeScript prior to prescribing):
- For the treatment of medical conditions where an opioid analgesic is required, provided the total daily dose of the following opioid(s) does not exceed 100mg in morphine equivalent dose (MED):
- hydromorphone oral
- morphine oral
- oxycodone oral or suppository
- tapentadol oral
- buprenorphine patch
- fentanyl patch
- Opioid analgesic in the treatment of pain caused by cancer or complication arising from cancer; and the diagnosis of pain caused by cancer or complications arising from cancer is made by a registered medical practitioner.
- Paediatricians treating a patient less than 18 years old with a psychostimulant drug approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- Consultant psychiatrists treating a patient with a psychostimulant drug approved by the TGA for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- For the intention of palliative care treatment where:
- A. the person to be administered, supplied or prescribed the Schedule 8 poison is suffering an incurable, progressive, far-advanced disease or medical condition; and
- B. the prognosis is of limited life expectancy due to the disease or medical condition; and
- C. the administration, supply or prescribing of the Schedule 8 poison is intended to provide palliative treatment.