Other than liquid herbal medines, I carry a very small range of selected products. Most of these, like the herbs, are classed “practitioner only” under the Therapeutic Goods Act. There is some confusion over what this means and unfortunately much of this is caused by health food stores and some pharmacies dispensing these products outside the guidelines of the agreement.
Practitioner only medicines
In 1990 an agreement was formed between the naturopathic/herbal associations in Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for registered practitioners (in this case members of approved associations) to dispense “practitioner only” medicines in conjunction with a consultation.
There are a multitude of reasons for the development of this agreement. Many of the products are stronger than their OTC counterparts, are prescribed to treat serious health conditions and/or are not designed for long term, unsupervised use.
In addition, these medicines, while approved by the TGA, don’t require the same extra labeling as over the counter (OTC) products. It is expected that the practitioner has a record of the consultation and explains the directions of use of the product.
Practitioner only medicines in pharmacies and health food stores
If a practitioner operates in a health food store or pharmacy, according to the agreement practitioner-only products must not be kept in public view. This usually means the supplements should be kept in a cupboard or under the counter, or behind the counter where customers can’t help themselves to these items. These products are also meant to be only dispensed by practitioners (who are members of the agreed associations) only in conjunction with a written record of the consultation. Such consultations are strictly between with the registered practitioner (no other staff) and the customer, and the guidelines state this is to happen in private beyond the earshot of other customers. Other practitioners may also fill prescriptions for other members of these associations.
These restrictions on the prescription and dispensing of practitioner only products are created with safety first. Ongoing use of these medicines, under the TGA’s guidelines, are limited to a three month period. Practitioners are restricted from prescribing longer use, without a consultation first.
Like doctor or pharmacist prescribed medicines, these products are not to be used by people other than the client for who they are prescribed for. While they may provide symptomatic relief, this may be masking a more serious health issue, ultimately delaying more appropriate treatment. While natural medicines appear safe, many have potential adverse reactions when taken inappropriately or interactions with other medications. Would you share your doctor’s prescriptions with friends and family? Please take our practitioner only medicines with the same respect.
Remember the saying “take only as prescribed”? Actually, practitioner only products don’t tend to have this on the label because they’re prescribed only by qualified health professionals who should explain the details of your individual prescription at the time they are dispensed.
Here are a few reminders to keeping our medicines safe.
• Treat all complementary and pharmaceutical medicines with respect.
• Do not use other people’s prescription or “practitioner only” medicines.
• Take herbs and vitamins only as directed, in consultation with your qualified healthcare practitioner.
• Don’t forget to throw out expired medicines; most pharmacies will collect old drugs and supplements to be destroyed appropriately.