Storage of medicines and poisons

Scheduled medicines include over the counter medicines, prescription medicines and controlled drugs.

Schedule poisons include domestic, agricultural and industrial chemicals that require caution in use or are categorised as highly dangerous.

All Scheduled medicines and poisons are to be stored:

  • out of direct access to the public
  • out of access to children
  • separately from foodstuffs or beverages.

Requirements specific to the individual schedules are outlined below.

Schedule 2

Schedule 2 (S2) medicines are Pharmacy Only items.

For retail settings, such as licenced S2 retailers and pharmacies, S2 medicines must be stored in an area or in a manner that prevents physical access to the medicine by the public.

For a pharmacy this is behind the counter and for a licensed retailer this will in a closed display counter.

For permit or licence holders, S2 medicines must be stored so that they are not visible or accessible to members of the public.

Schedule 3

Schedule 3 (S3) medicines are Pharmacist only and usually only by retail sale from a pharmacy.

They must be stored to prevent any physical access by the public, for example, behind the counter. Restricted S3 medicines, such as pseudoephedrine, must be stored in the dispensary, away from any retail area of the pharmacy.

Permit holders and authorised health practitioners must store S3 medicines so that they are not visible and in a manner that prevents physical access by the public.

Schedule 4

Schedule 4 (S4) medicines are prescription only.

In a pharmacy, S4 medicines must be stored in the dispensary, to prevent physical access by the public.

Health practitioners must store S4 medicines at their usual place of practice. These medicines must be kept in a container, cabinet or room that is kept locked and is only accessible by an authorised health professional, or a person when personally supervised by an authorised health professional.

Public hospitals have additional storage restrictions for certain Schedule 4 medicines which can cause dependence (known as restricted Schedule 4 medicines).

Authorised health practitioners may transport S4 medicines when attending patients outside their usual place of practice provided (e.g. home visits) as long as:

  • quantities are restricted to reasonable amounts, (e.g. PBS prescriber bag quantities)
  • medicines are in the possession of health professional at all times
  • reasonable steps are taken to protect against loss or theft.
Schedule 5

Schedule 5 (S5) substances are chemicals that are toxic if ingested of misused and classified as poisons.

They must be stored to prevent access by children.

Schedule 6

Schedule 6 (S6) substances are chemicals that are very toxic if ingested of misused and classified as poisons that require greater caution when handling.

Guidance for the safe retail storage of Schedule 6 poisons may be found at the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) website (external site).

Schedule 7

Schedule 7 (s7) are substances that are extremely toxic poisons that have high potential to cause harm at low exposure. They require special precautions for manufacture, handling and use. They should only be available to specialised or authorised users who have the skills necessary to handle them safely.

The retail storage of S7 poisons must only allow access by:

  • the owner or employee of a licensed Schedule 7 retail business
  • persons legally permitted to purchase a Schedule 7 poison and under the supervision of the owner or employee of the business.

Practical guidance to aid in interpreting the retail storage of S7 poisons may be found at the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) website (external site).

Special precautions must be also taken whenever handling these substances. Persons authorised to handle or use these medicines must take steps to store them securely so as to prevent inadvertent access by the general public that may lead to poisoning.

Schedule 8

Schedule 8 (S8) medicines are controlled prescription drugs.

These medicines must be stored in approved drug safes at all times.  Detailed information on the legal requirements for S8 storage is available in the Guidance Note: Safes for storing Schedule 8 medicines (Word 390KB).

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6883
Email: Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch