What are Schedule 2 (S2) substances?

Schedule 2 substances are labelled ‘Pharmacy Medicine’. They are available for sale from pharmacies and from licensed retailers in rural areas where no pharmacy is nearby. Many painkillers and products used to treat minor conditions such as coughs and colds are Schedule 2 substances.

What are Schedule 3 (S3) substances?

Schedule 3 substances are labelled ‘Pharmacist Only Medicine’. They do not require a prescription but they are only available from pharmacies. The preparation must be handed to the buyer by the pharmacist. This is to ensure that the person purchasing the medication can receive professional advice about its use.

What are Schedule 4 (S4) substances?

Schedule 4 substances are labelled ‘Prescription Only Medicine’. They are medicines that are obtained from a pharmacist on prescription.

Some S4 medicines are subject to special requirements regarding their supply. They are called ‘prescribed restricted substances’ or ‘Appendix D drugs’ or ‘S4D’ drugs and include drugs which may be abused and/or are liable to cause dependence. Anabolic androgenic steroids, barbiturates and benzodiazepines (such as diazepam and nitrazepam) are examples of S4Ds.

What are Schedule 8 (S8) substances?

Schedule 8 substances are labelled ‘Controlled Drug’. They are medicines that are obtained from a pharmacist on prescription and are subject to tight restrictions because of their potential to produce addiction. They are often referred to as ‘drugs of addiction’. Morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl are examples of S8 drugs.

Why are the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods laws in NSW different to other States and the Territories?

The differences in law that exist across Australia today are a product of history. Prior to Federation, each of the colonies (which would later become the States) had their own legislation controlling poisons and the practice of pharmacy. Under the Constitution of Australia, which came into effect in 1901, the Commonwealth were given only limited powers over the control of medicines. Most powers remained with the States.

Today, the Commonwealth controls the subsidisation of the cost of medicines, the registration of products and manufacturers, and the importation and exportation of medicines. The States control other aspects, and while differences remain, there has been considerable work over the last 50 years to harmonise the medicines and poisons laws in the various States.​

Current as at: Tuesday 19 November 2013
Contact page owner: Pharmaceutical Services