Prescribing rules for doctors

13 Jun 2013

Each State and Territory has laws regulating the prescription of medicines that determine: who can prescribe, which medicines, in what circumstances, in what manner, for what purpose, as well as additional conditions that must be met to prescribe certain classes of medicines such as certain S4 medicines or S8 medicines.

As laws vary in each jurisdiction, doctors must be careful they understand and comply with the laws in force where they practice. To check the requirements, contact the drugs and poisons unit in your State/Territory. The TGA maintains up-to-date contact details on its website:

In addition, doctors must comply with requirements and restrictions under Commonwealth law in order to prescribe under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Check the PBS rules at or phone the appropriate area on numbers listed at

The table below lists the Acts and Regulations applying to prescribing in each jurisdiction.


National Health Act 1953; National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Regulations 1960


Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008


Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2006


Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996


Poisons Act 1964; Poisons Regulations 1965


"Controlled substances Act 1984"; Controlled substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011


Poisons Act 1971; Poisons Regulations 2008


Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008; Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulations 2008


Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2012

All doctors are also bound by the Medical Board of Australia’s code of practice – Good Medical Practice – as a condition of their registration to practice in Australia.