Changes for Victoria from 1 April 2020

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Victorian Pharmacist-Administered Vaccination Program

  • People aged 10 years and older will be able to receive their influenza vaccine from a Pharmacist Immuniser.
  • People aged 15 years and older will be able to receive their meningococcal ACWY, measles-mumps-rubella and pertussis-containing vaccine from a Pharmacist Immuniser.
  • Pharmacist-administered mobile or outreach vaccination services will be possible.

Read more in the Victorian Pharmacist-Administered Vaccination Program communique – March 2020.

For more information on preparing for the increased demand for vaccinations, read PDL’s Practice Alert “Vaccination 2020 – are you prepared?“.

Mandatory SafeScript

From 1 April 2020, SafeScript will be mandatory in Victoria and will be used by prescribers before issuing a script on the target list and for pharmacists dispensing a script on the list.

As of April, the target drugs are:

  • All S8s including those used in ORT (Opioid Replacement Therapy)
  • All benzodiazepines
  • Z drugs (zolpidem and zopiclone)
  • Quetiapine (all brands)
  • Codeine containing drugs (Panadeine Forte, Codeine Linctus etc.)

Other high-risk drugs like pregabalin, tramadol and olanzapine were considered and could be added at a later date as the list is under constant review.

SafeScript is a real time prescription monitoring mechanism that was initiated to help doctors and pharmacists make informed decisions before prescribing or dispensing high risk drugs. This is necessary as in 2017, there were more deaths recorded involving prescription medication (414) than for illicit drugs (271).

Pharmacists who have not already done so will need to register with the system as failure to consult SafeScript after April 1 will be a breach of the legislation and may attract financial penalties.

SafeScript uses coloured pop-ups to alert pharmacists as to the level of risk associated with a presented prescription.


Red alerts indicate that multiple scripts have been issued in the last 90 days OR that the Morphine Equivalent Dose (MED) is greater than 100mg/day on a 90 day average. It may also indicate that high risk combination drugs have been issued such as a benzodiazepine with methadone.


Amber alerts indicate the issue of four or more scripts for target drugs over the last six months OR the MED is over 50mg/day but less than 100mg/day.


Green alerts indicate that no target drugs have been issued or dispensed in the last six months.

A red or amber alert will indicate that there is some level of risk involved and a pharmacist MUST click on the pop-up notifications to make an informed decision before dispensing. However, a red or amber alert does not prevent a pharmacist from proceeding to dispense the drug if it is deemed appropriate when all factors have been considered.

Some pharmacists have questioned the need to check the validity of a script for an S8 drug which appears in SafeScript as having been prescribed by a registered practitioner. Being listed in SafeScript will give a pharmacist some degree of comfort that the script is not a forgery. However, the Drugs and Poisons section of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) advises that all the current regulations on dispensing S8 drugs must still be adhered to. This will require a script for an S8 where the prescriber’s handwriting is not familiar to the pharmacist to be verified by direct contact with that prescriber.

Pharmacists can only access Safescript for patients under their immediate care. As pharmacists have an individual login to the system, access is transparent to the DHHS and those using the system inappropriately can incur penalties or referral to AHPRA for investigation.

As the DHHS monitors activity in SafeScript, pharmacists should be aware that inappropriate or too-frequent dispensing of targeted medicines will be visible to the department. Previously, forgeries have been identified through SafeScript and where failure to follow legislation is apparent, prosecution by the department is possible. Some pharmacies have also been exposed dispensing targeted drugs too frequently and have been required to explain their actions.

SafeScript is available to prescribers, nurse practitioners and pharmacists to make informed decisions to protect the health of Victorians.

Find more information on the Victorian Government SafeScript webpage.