Reporting loss or theft of medicines and poisons

Any health practitioner or person authorised to handle must report the loss of theft of any Scheduled medicine or poison to the Department of Health immediately.

Theft of scheduled medicines or poisons

Health practitioners, and licence and permit holders must take steps when storing and handling medicines or poisons to keep them secure and prevent unauthorised public access.

If at any time a health practitioner, or licence and permit holder identifies that scheduled medicines or poisons have been stolen from their practice or business then the Department of Health must be informed immediately using the Notification of loss, theft or incident for investigation form (Word 837KB).

Department Officers will routinely investigate cases of theft. Health practitioners, and licence and permit holders are expected to review and their security arrangements and when necessary take steps to prevent the risk of reoccurrence. The Department of Health also encourages reporting of any confirmed theft to the Police.

Schedule 8 or 9 register imbalance

All movements of Schedule 8 (S8) or Schedule 9 (S9) substances must be recorded in an approved Register. A running balance of the physical stockholdings must also be kept in the register. An inventory of these stockholdings must be performed regularly.

If at any time physical stocktake does not agree with expected balance in the register then there is a stock discrepancy that must be investigated and resolved.

All obvious causes of the imbalance must be investigated in the first instance. These may include, missing entries, incorrect physical counts or addition errors. The stock movements of the medicines should be reviewed against the register, such as though invoices, prescriptions, or inventory and dispensing software.

If after these preliminary checks, and correction of any missing transactions, the discrepancy remains, then the imbalance must be reported to the Department of Health using the Notification of loss, theft or incident for investigation form (Word 837KB).

Forged prescriptions

It is an offence for anyone other than the original prescriber to modify a prescription in any way. It is also an offence to use fraudulent or misleading means to obtain a prescription medicine.

A fraudulent prescription may be entirely false, or incorrect in any one particular detail. This may include not being issued by the stated prescriber at all, or a valid prescription having individual details modified or altered (including date, drug, quantity or patient).

A pharmacist who has reason to suspect a prescription is not genuine must take steps to establish authenticity with the prescriber. If a prescription is confirmed not to be authentic, then it may not be dispensed. Fraudulent prescriptions must be:

  • marked as cancelled
  • retained at the pharmacy
  • reported to the Department of Health
  • provided to the Department as requested.

Pharmacists must immediately notify the Department of Health of forged prescriptions using the Notification of forged or altered prescription form (Word 836KB). The Department of Health also encourages reporting of prescription forgeries to the Police.

Reporting other concerns

Health practitioners, and licence and Permit holders are encouraged to report other irregularities or concerns with medicines and poisons to the Department of Health. The Department will also accept similar information provided by the public.

Where the matters relate to advertising, storage, transport, reporting, record keeping, supply, or disposal (including dumping, illegal sales, illicit supply or any other matter of concern), the Department has authority to investigate these matters. Misconduct or mismanagement that is a threat to public health is taken very seriously and will be investigated.

Under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2014, Officers of the Department may be authorised as investigators, and have powers to retrieve records, inspect premises and take evidence for any court matters.

Health practitioners, and licence and Permit holders must cooperate with investigators and provide all reasonable assistance as instructed. Any records that are requested must be provided in full, in the format required, and within a reasonable time frame. Failure to produce records may be an offence.

The Department cannot directly investigate matters of commercial practice, health practitioner standards or the standard of premises that involve medicines and poisons. The Department is not able to resolve individual disputes with patients (such as relating to fees and charges for medicines). When reported, these issues will be referred to the most relevant regulatory agency.

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6883
Email: poisons@health.gov.au