Dispensing interstate prescriptions

Pharmacists may dispense most:

  • handwritten prescriptions
  • computer-generated prescriptions
  • electronic prescriptions

issued by an authorised prescriber, regardless of the Australian State or Territory it was prescribed in.

An authorised prescriber is any health practitioner authorised under the WA Medicines and Poisons legislation to prescribe, e.g. registered medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, and dentists. As health practitioners are registered nationally with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), most prescriptions written by interstate prescribers can be dispensed by WA pharmacies.

However, there are some cases where certain S8 prescriptions written by interstate prescribers cannot be dispensed in WA.

Valid interstate prescriptions

Prescriptions issued by interstate prescribers that may be dispensed in WA include:

  • all Schedule 4 (S4) and
  • most Schedule 8 (S8) medicines.

To be valid in WA, prescriptions must:

  • contain all the information normally required by WA Medicines and Poisons legislation; and
  • be issued by a health practitioner authorised under the WA Medicines and Poisons legislation to prescribe.

Requirements for interstate Schedule 8 prescriptions

Interstate S8 prescriptions (handwritten, computer-generated, and electronic) must contain all additional information as required by the WA Medicines and Poisons legislation, such as patient date of birth, exact repeat interval, and precise directions for use.

Checking the authenticity of interstate S8 prescriptions

Handwritten and computer-generated prescriptions

Pharmacists must still take reasonable steps to verify the authenticity of handwritten and computer-generated S8 prescriptions from both interstate and WA prescribers.

Electronic prescriptions

Electronic prescriptions for S8 medicines, whether issued by WA or interstate prescribers are exempt from the usual confirmation of authenticity requirements. This is because the risk of a person forging a fully electronic prescription, and having a corresponding token, is very low.

The exemption applies only to fully electronic prescriptions, not to ‘digital images’ of paper-based prescriptions.

Retaining interstate prescription repeats for S8 medicines

Handwritten and computer-generated prescriptions

Original and repeat prescriptions for handwritten and computer-generated S8 medicines issued by WA or interstate prescribers must be retained at the dispensing WA pharmacy. Approval is required for transfer back to a pharmacy in another state. Transfer requests should be made using the standard Application for inter-pharmacy transfer of S8 repeats form.

Electronic prescriptions

Original and repeat of fully electronic prescriptions for S8 medicines issued by WA or interstate prescribers are not required to be kept in the pharmacy, as is necessary for paper-based S8 prescriptions and repeats. This also means there is no requirement for the patient to have all their repeats dispensed at the same pharmacy.

Repeats for electronic S8 medicines are issued to the patient as an electronic token.

Information on electronic prescribing can be found at: Electronic prescribing

Interstate S8 prescriptions that cannot be dispensed in WA

There are some S8 medicines that require the medical practitioner to have specific approval of the CEO of the WA Department of Health to prescribe.

The Department of Health does not routinely authorise prescribing by interstate practitioners in these cases. For this reason, interstate prescriptions for these S8 medicines are unlikely to be authorised and should not be dispensed by WA pharmacists.

These include paper-based, computer-generated, and electronic prescriptions for:

  • alprazolam and flunitrazepam
  • medicinal cannabis products in S8 (this does not include cannabidiol only products in S4)
  • methadone for pain management
  • opioid pharmacotherapy for treatment of dependence
  • any S8 medicine not listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), including ketamine lozenges and other compounded S8 preparations
  • stimulant medicines* (see below Interstate stimulant prescriptions).

Regulations and restrictions over prescribing of S8 medicines do vary between States and Territories. An equivalent approval to prescribe one of these medicines in the State of origin is not valid in WA, even if the prescription complies with relevant restrictions in that jurisdiction.

In these cases, the pharmacist should refer the patient to a WA-based prescriber, who can then contact the WA Department of Health directly.

*Interstate stimulant prescriptions

The Schedule 8 Prescribing Code has been updated to allow certain types of specialists who provide telehealth services to Western Australian residents, to be authorised as stimulant prescribers for Western Australian patients.

Interstate stimulant prescriptions may be dispensed in Western Australia where the prescription:

  • is for a Western Australian resident with a Western Australian address on the prescription; and
  • has been issued through a telehealth consultation with an approved specialist (such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, or paediatrician – specialty can be verified on the AHPRA register) practising in another state or territory; and
  • has been issued by an approved prescriber on or after 13 December 2023.

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6883
Email: MPRB@health.wa.gov.au

Last reviewed: 15-01-2024
Produced by

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch