​​To prescribe or supply registered Schedule 8 medicines (opioids or ketamine) for pain management, or a Schedule 8 benzodiazepine (alprazolam and flunitrazepam), a medical or nurse practitioner may be required to obtain an approval* from the NSW Ministry of Health. 

It is important to note that an approval from the NSW Ministry of Health is distinct from, and independent of, an authority from Services Australia which is for the purposes of a subsidy under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

An approval from the NSW Ministry of Health is required when prescribing or supplying a Schedule 8 medicine for pain management or a Schedule 8 benzodiazepine to:

  1. a drug dependent person
  2. a non-drug dependent person who is prescribed or supplied with the following Schedule 8 medicines continuously for more than 2 months:
    • any Schedule 8 medicine in injectable form
    • any Schedule 8 medicine for intranasal use, or for spray or application to mucous membranes
    • hydromorphone
    • alprazolam
    • flunitrazepam
    • buprenorphine (except transdermal preparations)
    • methadone.

Hospital inpatients

An approval is not required to prescribe or supply a Schedule 8 medicine as listed above to a person (drug dependent or non-drug dependent) who is admitted to a hospital as an inpatient, unless the inpatient stay exceeds 14 consecutive days.

How to apply for approval

Applications for approval to prescribe or supply the Schedule 8 medicines as listed above should be submitted via SafeScript NSWSubmitting applications via SafeScript NSW allows prescribers to monitor their application progress online and to receive real-time approval in many cases. Prescribers will be notified immediately if: 

  • an approval is required 
  • the application is automatically approved
  • the application is submitted and needs to be reviewed by the NSW Ministry of Health.

Alternatively, you may apply using the following application form:

The completed form can be sent to the ​Pharmaceutical Services Unit via email at MOH-S8Auth@health.nsw.gov.au, or fax on (02) 9424 5889.

Application forms for other Schedule 8 medicines are available at Application forms for approval to prescribe or supply.

 *An approval has the same meaning as an authority under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966.

Current as at: Monday 25 March 2024
Contact page owner: Pharmaceutical Services