Nurses cleared to prescribe drugs

23:29, Nov 21 2013

Some nurses and optometrists will be able to hand out medication following a law change today.

An amendment to the Medicines Act has passed into law, allowing for optometrists and nurse practitioners to broaden their scope of practise and write prescriptions of patients.

This puts them in the same company as medical practitioners, dentists and midwives.

The new law will also allow for "delegated prescribers" to hand out drugs, if they've been ordered to do so by an "authorised prescriber".

Associate Health Minister Todd McClay said law change would remove unnecessary red tape.

The law is an interim measure, with hold-ups in negotiations delaying the establishment of the Australia and New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency.

The trans-Tasman agency is a joint project between New Zealand's MedSafe and Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration. It would regulate the introduction of pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices across both countries. 

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