NPs' prescribing of controlled drugs freed up

2 July 2014

The lifting of restrictions on nurse practitioners prescribing controlled drugs like morphine and ritalin is being warmly welcomed.

From July 1 nurse practitioners (NPs) no longer are restricted to prescribing only three day’s supply of a limited list of controlled drugs. 

Temuka NP Sharon Hansen, who is deputy chair of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network, says the change removes another barrier to delivering better quality health care to patients.

“Many people have worked hard to overturn restrictive legislation which has stood in the way of expert nurses delivering care within their communities,” said Hansen.

“Access to timely treatment including medications has always been a barrier to care and more so in rural communities,” she said.

“The Network now awaits the enactment of the omnibus law, which will further reduce restrictive wording around other activities undertaken by nurse practitioners,” says Ms Hansen.

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Regulations 2014 follows on from another long lobbied-for legislative amendment that made nurse practitioners authorised prescribers.

The latest amendments remove the previous restrictions on nurse practitioner prescribing of controlled drugs which limited NPs to prescribing only three days’ supply (or in an emergency) and from a list of 42 controlled drugs.  NPs are now allowed to prescribe for patients within their scope of practice for up to one month’s supply for Class A or B controlled drugs(like morphine and Ritalin); and up to three months’ supply for Class C controlled drugs(like diazepam).  The change also allows midwives to prescribe morphine and fentanyl, in addition to pethidine.