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New Medicines law amendments take effect today

Hon Peter Dunne
Associate Minister of Health

30 June 2014

Media Statement
New Medicines law amendments take effect today

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has announced changes introduced under the Medicines Amendment Act 2013 and the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Regulations 2014 broadening the scope for prescribing by nurse practitioners, optometrists and midwives that come into force tomorrow.

“The changes will improve patient access to timely care, make best use of the skills of the nurse practitioner, optometrist and midwifery workforces, and reduce patient cost. The Act names nurse practitioners and optometrists as authorised prescribers and revokes their designated prescriber regulations.

“This change will enable these professionals to prescribe all medicines appropriate to their scope of practice, rather than restricting them to only being able to prescribe from a limited list of medicines,” says Mr Dunne.

Changes have also been made to controlled drug prescribing by nurse practitioners and midwives via the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Regulations.

“The law change is intended to improve patient care, while maintaining all the safeguards that already exist for prescribing of controlled drugs. This will mean highly-skilled health professionals will be better able to prescribe the medicines or controlled drugs that their patient needs, when they need them,” Mr Dunne said.

The Act also creates a new category of ‘delegated prescriber’ which will give professional groups a prescribing option beyond the existing categories.

Further background
• From 1 July, as authorised prescribers, nurse practitioners will be able to prescribe controlled drugs within their scope of practice for up to one month’s supply for Class A and B controlled drugs, and up to three months’ supply for Class C controlled drugs (at present they can prescribe from a set list of drugs for three days, in an emergency).

• Changes have also been made to controlled drug prescribing by midwives. This reflects a change in clinical practice, as pethidine is no longer the preferred pain relief for childbirth. From 1 July midwives will have the option of prescribing morphine and fentanyl in addition to pethidine, for pain relief during labour (at present they can only prescribe pethidine).

• Delegated prescribers will be allowed to prescribe under a “delegated prescribing order” issued by an authorised prescriber. The competence, training and qualifications required of delegated prescribers will be set in consultation with the responsible authority.

• The Act includes an administrative change that supports work already underway on e-prescribing.

You can read more about the changes at www.health.govt.nz

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