Authorities for health practitioners working with medicines

Under the Medicines and Poisons Regulations, health practitioners are legally authorised to do certain things with medicines, such as purchase, prescribe or administer.

What a practitioner can do is dependent on their individual profession and any additional training or endorsement they hold.

Types of medicines authorities

Possible types of medicines authorities include:

  1. obtain (also called purchase) – legally buying medicines from a pharmaceutical wholesaler
  2. possess – store a medicine for later use
  3. prescribe – write a prescription to instruct a pharmacist to dispense a medicine
  4. administer – administer a dose of a medicine to a patient when instructed by prescriber
  5. supply – when a prescriber gives a quantity of medicine to a patient to take
  6. dispense – when a pharmacist supplies on the instruction of a prescription.
Pharmacists can also manufacture a medicine, which may include taking several substances and turning this into therapeutic product.
Authorities of different professions

The basic authorities for each category of health practitioner is outlined below:

Table 1: Types of authorities for different health professions
Practitioner type
 Y Y Y Y Y  
Medical practitioner
 Y Y Y Y   Y
Veterinary surgeon
 Y Y Y Y   Y
 Y Y Y Y   Y
Dental therapist, Dental hygienist,
Oral health therapist

(under direction
of a dentist)
   Y Y      
Optometrist    Y Y      
   Y Y
Endorsed practitioner*
 Y Y Y Y   Y
Paramedic    Y Y      
Aboriginal health practitioner/worker    Y Y      
Anaesthetic technician
   Y Y      
Vessel first aider  Y Y Y      

*Nurse, Midwife, Optometrist, Podiatrist

Some professions can also supply in limited circumstances under Structured Administration and Supply Agreements. For clarity, some restricted authorities are not listed here.

Important restrictions
All medicines authorities are subject to important restrictions. In general, any use of a medicine is limited to genuine therapeutic need, lawful practice or business, and professional scope.

In cases of misconduct or unlawful behaviour a condition may be applied to the authority of an individual, or in extreme cases revoked.

For more details on relevant restrictions that may apply practitioners should review guidance for each profession.

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6883