Requirements for prescriptions in Western Australia

Who can prescribe?

Only health professionals authorised under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, and acting in the lawful practice of their profession, can prescribe medicines.

Prescribers must prescribe within their scope of practice and comply with the Medicines and Poisons Regulations 2016.

Minimum requirements

Prescriptions must include all of the following information:

  • name, address and telephone number of the prescriber
  • name and address of the patient or species of animal and the name and address of the person caring for the animal for veterinary prescriptions
  • medicine name, strength and formulation
  • precise directions for use (dosage and frequency)
  • quantity to be dispensed
  • number of repeats permitted (if any)
  • date the prescription was issued
  • signature of the prescriber.

Prescribers are not required to write parts of computer generated S8 prescriptions by hand, however all prescriptions must still be signed.

Schedule 8 medicines

In addition to the standard requirements for a prescription, when prescribing Schedule 8 medicines authorised prescribers must include:

  • a minimum repeat dispensing interval
  • the patient’s verified date of birth.

A prescription for S8 medicines must not include any Schedule 4 (S4) medicines.

Computer generated prescriptions for S8 medicines are acceptable, but must be signed by the prescriber.

Prescribers must comply with the Schedule 8 Medicines Prescribing Code (Word 370KB). For a number of Schedule 8 medicines, prior approval is required from the Department of Health.

Schedule 8 medicines should not be prescribed to any new or unknown patient without first contacting the Department of Health Schedule 8 Prescriber Information Service on (08) 9222 4424.

Verifying authenticity

Before dispensing any S8 medicine, the pharmacist must take reasonable steps to confirm the genuineness of the prescription.  This includes checking the :

  • identity and authority of the prescriber
  • identity of the person presenting the prescription
  • authenticity of the prescription itself.

Where the pharmacist is unfamiliar with the patient, or the treatment is for a S8 medication not previously dispensed at the pharmacy, for that person, by that prescriber, then steps should be taken to verify the prescription. Prescriptions should be verified by speaking to the prescriber in person, via telephone or other equivalent means.

Prescriptions received using an approved electronic prescribing system or otherwise electronically checked, such as through scanning a script exchange bar code, do not need further verification. Seemingly valid PBS authority approval numbers are not a substitute for personal verification with the prescriber.

Forged prescriptions must be retained and cancelled by the pharmacist. The Department of Health must be immediately advised of all suspected forgeries. Prescribers must report all cases of confirmed or suspected stolen prescription stationery as soon as possible.

Emergency supply

A prescriber may direct a pharmacist to supply an S4 or S8 medicine to a patient in an emergency.

The prescriber who gives this order must then:

  • prepare a valid prescription to cover the emergency supply; and
  • post the prescription to the pharmacist within 24 hours.

Prescriptions must not be given to the patient to take to the pharmacy.

More information

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