E-prescriptions, triptans and COVID-19 vaccines: your questions answered

This month, we're covering everything from administering COVID-19 vaccines to the Schedule 3 supply of triptans

Each week, pharmacists across the country ring PSA’s Pharmacist to Pharmacist advice line looking for guidance on everything from practice-related queries to ethical dilemmas. In this monthly series, Australian Pharmacist speaks to the experts to answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

This month, we’re covering everything from administering COVID-19 vaccines to the Schedule 3 supply of triptans. Have a question of your own? PSA members can call 1300 369 772 to receive professional advice and support.

Q: How do I prepare my pharmacy for electronic prescriptions?

A: There are a few steps to take to ensure you are set up for electronic prescriptions. 

  • It is a mandatory requirement to obtain and register for a Healthcare Provider Identifier-Organisation (HPI-O) that is connected to the HI service.
  • You should also ensure your pharmacy is connected to an open prescription delivery service via a prescription exchange system such as eRx or MediSecure.
  • Update your patients’ and carers’ contact details on file (mobile phone number/email).
  • Enable QR codes on your barcode scanners following your manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure you know current legal rules that are specific to your state/territory, such as the management of controlled medicines. 

Shobana Sothirajah, Professional Support Advisor, PSA

Q: What happens when the internet is down and I can’t dispense the electronic prescription?

A: It is up to the pharmacist’s discretion to dispense medicines under emergency supply. Alternately, you can contact the prescriber and request a paper-based prescription. 

Shobana Sothirajah, Professional Support Advisor, PSA

Q: What is a NASH certificate?

A: NASH is the National Authentication Service for Health, which is used to securely access and share information using national digital health systems. 

NASH Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates help you access services such as Healthcare Identifiers and My Health Record. 

They need to be installed into clinical software (e.g. your dispensing system), usually by the software vendor, and they work in the background to allow access to health systems. An expired or missing NASH certificate will stop your organisation being able to access these systems.

Key points:

  • NASH certificates have a 2 year expiry for the date of issue
  • Expiry reminders will be sent approximately 60 days prior to expiry 
  • NASH certificates are managed online through PRODA by the Responsible Officer (usually a business owner ) or an organisation maintenance officer (an authorised representative) 
  • NASH certificates need to be re-installed when a new certificate is obtained or issued if the computer where the NASH is installed is replaced.

More information on NASH certificates can be found here.   

Bill Wallace, Professional Support Advisor, PSA

Q: Where can I find guidance for the Schedule 3 supply of triptans?

A: From February 2021, selected triptans were downscheduled to Schedule 3 medicines.

Pharmacists play a vital role in managing patients with migraines and headaches and PSA has several options to help pharmacists remain informed with the downscheduling of triptan medicines.  

This includes: 

  1. Essential CPE Migraine has been released, which assists pharmacists in learning all they need to know about headaches and migraines, including the identification of different types of headaches and the appropriate use of medicines for headaches and migraines.   
  2. The PSA held a webinar for pharmacists, with migraine specialists providing information in relation to the supply of triptans as a pharmacist only medicine. This webinar was recorded and is available for members.  
  3. The Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary (APF) 25th Edition contains an updated counselling guide on headache and migraine. This guide covers all treatment options, helping pharmacists to understand the place in care of triptan medicines.

More information can be found here.

Q: I have completed COVID-19 vaccine training, am I able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine yet?

A: This is dependent on the state or territory in which you practice, as pharmacists must comply with relevant state and territory legislation. At this stage, not all jurisdictions have passed legislation allowing pharmacists to administer COVID-19 vaccines, and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in community pharmacies has been delayed.

In some states and territories pharmacist immunisers are able to administer COVID-19 vaccines in a variety of settings, such as GP practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. 

The PSA COVID-19 website includes a table outlining all current regulatory requirements for each jurisdiction in relation to COVID-19 vaccines. This table is regularly updated, providing accurate and up-to-date information for pharmacists. 

For each state and territory, the table outlines the COVID-19 vaccines pharmacists are able to administer and the locations they are able to administer the vaccines. Also available in this table are links to the legislation and guidelines for non-COVID vaccines.  

Amanda Fairjones, Professional Support Advisor, PSA