Same Same but Different: Australian Schedule 8 Medication Legislation


  • Juliet Contreras juliet
  • Mary Bushell
  • Lyn Todd
  • Mark Naunton



Schedule 8 medication, quality use of medicines, medication safety, controlled medication, pharmacy, student-led journal, peer-reviewed


In Australia, each state and territory has different requirements for what constitutes a legal prescription, what is considered legal supply and legalities for disposing of medicines. This could be associated with risks to patients, carers, and health care professionals, and more research into this is needed. National legislation would mitigate these risks and align with the objectives in Australia’s National Medicine Policy of access to medications and the quality use of medications.

This snapshot review aims to identify and highlight the differences in State and Territory requirements for dispensing and pharmacist involvement in disposal of S8 medicines in Australia, to develop a tool for healthcare professionals to identify the requirements. Relevant State and Territory Acts, Regulations and guidelines were reviewed, see Tables 1 and 2.

The many and nuanced differences that exist across each state and territory is demonstrated by only 4 of the 29 requirements that were reviewed being the same nationwide. The different requirements for schedule 8 (S8) medication can be difficult and time consuming for healthcare professionals (HCP) to navigate and identify from the legislation, which changes often. Until unified legislation is in force, an accessible, dynamic resource for HCP with up-to-date information regarding these requirements across all states and territories could reduce the risks. An example of this on a different topic is the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s COVID-19 microsite.


Hope DL, Dickfos ST, Ellerby RE, King MA. Borderline health: jurisdictional variation in Australian medicines legislation poses potential risks to patients and healthcare practitioners. Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research. 2016;46(3):201-8.

Hua AC, Shen F, Ge X. State-based legal requirements for Schedule 8 prescriptions: why so complicated? Medical Journal of Australia. 2015;203(2):64-6.

Australian Govenrment Department of Health. The National Medicines Policy - A partnership for better health outcomes. The Department; 1999 ISBN 0 642 41568 4

Philips H, Naunton M. S8 Medications: Legal Requirements in Australian States and Territories for Dispensing, Storage and Disposal [unpublished poster]. 2017. Located at: University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 (ACT)(Austl.)

Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 (ACT)(Austl.)

Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 (NSW)(Austl.)

Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 (NSW) (Austl.)


Electronic Transactions (Northern Territory) Act 2000 (NT) (Austl.)

Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2012 (NT) (Austl.)

Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 (QLD) (Austl.)

Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021 (QLD)(Austl.)

Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011 (SA) (Austl.)

Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) (Austl.)

Poisons Act 1971 (Tas) (Austl.)

Poisons Regulations 2018 (Tas) (Austl.)

Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2017 (Vic) (Austl.)

Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) (Austl.)

WA: Medicines and Poisons Regulations 2016 (WA) (Austl.)

Medicines and Poisons Act 2014 (WA) (Austl.)