By Rhiannon Riches
Queensland optometrists can now apply to be individually approved to prescribe compounded medicines, following a major breakthrough with Queensland Health.
Optometry QLD/NT lobbied on behalf of its members to secure the pathway for therapeutically-qualified optometrists in Queensland to have authority to prescribe compounded medicines.
Optometry QLD/NT CEO Cathryn Baker said the pathway would provide an interim measure while Queensland legislation was being revised. ‘It is a good outcome after being stalled for some time as the legislation wasn’t progressing. It pays to be persistent,’ she said.
The issue arose initially in early 2016 when it became apparent that optometrists in Queensland were not considered medical practitioners according to the state’s Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996.
An Optometry Australia investigation of the equivalent regulations in all other Australian jurisdictions revealed optometrists in Queensland were the only optometrists not legally permitted to prescribe compounded medicines.
‘In essence, Queensland legislation had been set up so that optometrists couldn’t prescribe compounded medicines, which was of particular concern considering the prescribing of low dose atropine which requires compounding. This situation didn’t apply in any other states,’ Optometry Australia national policy manager Skye Cappuccio said.
Dr Ann Webber, one of the first optometrists to successfully apply to Queensland Health for authority to prescribe compounded medicines, said that only Queensland had a caveat in its regulations.
‘We were advised by Optometry QLD/NT that a revision of the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation was due to go through Parliament and would resolve the problem,’ Dr Webber said.
However, as the legislation was not progressing, Optometry QLD/NT lobbied Queensland Health for an interim solution.
That interim solution allows optometrists in Queensland to apply to Queensland Health to be individually approved to prescribe compounded medicines. The applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Ms Baker said Dr Emily Pieterse, a director on the Optometry QLD/NT board, currently on maternity leave, was pivotal to the organisation’s lobbying effort.
‘Dr Pieterse was instrumental in advice on the technical aspects and a very strong advocate on this issue on behalf of Optometry QLD/NT,’ Ms Baker said.
Optometrists in Queensland are advised to contact Olivia Adlard at Optometry QLD/NT for information about the Queensland Health approval process and how to apply as a therapeutically endorsed optometrist seeking to prescribe compounded medicines in Queensland.