Prescribing medicines and drugs: Regulations and requirements

In South Australia prescribing of medicines is governed by the Controlled Substances Act 1984. The controlled substances legislation provides registered health practitioners and license and permit holders with privileges around possessing, supplying, prescribing and administering drugs.

Prescribing of drugs of dependence

Information about specific requirements relating to prescribing drugs of dependence is available at the following locations:

Prescribing medicines at SA Health

All prescribers working within the South Australian Public Sector are required to abide by relevant SA Health policies relating to medicines and prescribing as well as any relevant local hospital or Local Health Network polices. This includes prescribing in accordance with the relevant medicines formulary requirements.

Currently, each hospital/health service maintains a list of medicines that can be prescribed within that hospital/health service. SA Health is now undertaking a statewide approach to the availability of medicines and developing a list of core medicines which are approved for use within SA Public Hospitals and health services, the SA Medicines Formulary (SAMF). High Cost Medicines are managed by the SA Medicines Evaluation Panel (SAMEP) under the High cost medicines formulary.

PBS-listed medicines

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) gives all Australian residents and eligible overseas visitors access to prescription medicine in a way that is affordable, reliable and timely. Through the PBS, the Australian Government subsidises the cost of listed prescription medicines for most medical conditions. Information relating to prescribing PBS-listed medicines is available by visiting the following links:

Most of the listed medicines are available in the community (Section 85), but there are some medicines which require more specialised services and are available under special arrangements through PBS Section 100 programs. This includes the prescribing of certain specialised medications for the treatment of chronic conditions under the Highly Specialised Drugs (HSD) Program.

Most HSDs may only be prescribed by hospital specialists, but community prescribing of some HSDs is available under shared care arrangements.

Non-medical prescribing

Over recent years prescribing rights have been extended beyond the traditional remit of doctors and dentists to other healthcare professionals as a way to improve the quality of services to clients. More information is available on the Prescribing of medicines by non-medical healthcare professionals page.

Clinical guidelines developed and endorsed by SA Health to guide the prescribing of medicines to facilitate best practice and optimise patient care




Neonatal prescribing

Stroke management