Amendment of the Medicines (Standing Orders) Regulations

Standing orders are written instructions that allow timely access to medicines in situations where an authorised prescriber is not available.

Standing orders are a well-established mechanism, widely used to enable the supply and administration of medicines without a prescription in a variety of situations. They are most commonly used in aged care, rural health, primary care, sexual health and family planning.

The Medicines Amendment Act 2013 amended the Medicines Act 1981 (Act) to give nurse practitioners and prescribing optometrists the same prescribing authority as medical practitioners, dentists and midwives (authorised prescribers).

The Amendment Act also changed the definition of a standing order in the Act so that all authorised prescribers are permitted to issue standing orders under applicable regulations.

At present the Medicines (Standing Order) Regulations 2002 restrict the issuing of standing orders to medical practitioners and dentists.

Nurse practitioners and prescribing optometrists provide health care in settings where the power to issue standing orders will improve access to medicines through the most efficient deployment of the available workforce.

Government decision

In April 2016, Government agreed to the proposal to amend the Medicines (Standing Orders) regulations so that nurse practitioners and optometrists can issue standing orders.

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