New Poisons and Prohibited Substances Regulations in Queensland


This article applies to organisations based in Queensland that deal with a poison or prohibited substance.

Medicines and Poisons (Poisons and Prohibited Substances) Regulation 2021 (Qld)

Overview

Please be advised that on 27 September 2021, the Medicines and Poisons (Poisons and Prohibited Substances) Regulation 2021 (Qld) (the Regulations) will commence under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 (Qld) (the Act). The Regulations will introduce a raft of new provisions aimed at giving effect to several of the objects of the Act, including protecting the public from the health risks associated with inappropriate access to and use of poisons and enhancing consistency with national regulatory frameworks.

The key provisions are discussed below.

Approved persons

Section 54 of the Act allows a prescribed class of persons to be authorised to carry out a regulated activity with a regulated substance. Schedule 2 of the Regulation stipulates that classes of persons, such as pharmacists, are authorised, as a result of section 54, to supply or buy a non-restricted S7 substance, cyanide, or strychnine.

Schedule 2 and other provisions aim to minimise the regulatory burden by authorising appropriately trained and competent individuals to undertake specific activities without requiring specific approvals.

Substance authority

Under section 61 of the Act, the term substance authority is defined to include:

  • a manufacturing licence; or
  • wholesale licence; or
  • a retail licence; or
  • a pest management licence; or
  • a prescribing approval; or
  • a general approval.

The Regulations seek to impose a series of obligations on those that hold a specific substance authority or deal with particular poisons or substances.

High-Risk Poisons 

The Regulations create certain obligations on any substance authority that uses an S8 poison or a prohibited substance, other than a prohibited substance used, or intended to be used, for a therapeutic use (a high-risk poison). Regulation 26 requires that the relevant holder of a substance authority create a document (a high-risk poison register) that contains information about high-risk poisons.

Regulations 27 stipulates that information such as the name, form, strength, and amount of the poison must be recorded in a high-risk poison register. Furthermore, while regulations 29 and 30 allow for either an electronic or paper register to be created, if a holder keeps an electronic register, it must meet particular criteria, including being set up so that a person can make entries in the register only by using a secure system identifier. Likewise, if the register is paper-based, reasonable steps must be in place to ensure that a page cannot be removed from the register without detection.

The term prohibited substance is defined under section 13 of the Act as a substance to which schedule 9 (an S9 prohibited substance) or schedule 10 (an S10 prohibited substance) of the Poison Standard applies.

S2, S3 and S4 Poisons

It should be noted that under regulations 36 and 38, a substance authority authorised to possession of an S2, S3, or S4 poison must take all reasonable steps to ensure a poison is stored in a way that prevents the poison from being accessed by a person who is not authorised to deal with the poison. Furthermore, if a poison is disposed of, it must be destroyed under the supervision of an authorised supervisor for an authority.

S7 Poisons

The Regulations stipulate that an S7 substance must be stored in a secure area and, if transported in a vehicle, stored in a secure area of the vehicle.

Obligations on Substance Authority – Manufacturing

Part 2 Division 1 of the Regulations imposes specific obligations on those that hold a manufacturing license, requiring that:

  • an appropriately qualified person is appointed to supervise any manufacturing under the licence;
  • all reasonable steps are taken to ensure a regulated poison manufactured is fit for its intended use and free from contamination; and
  • records containing information such as the name of a supplier of any material are made and kept.

Regulation 5 defines regulated poison as either a hazardous poison or a prohibited substance, other than a prohibited substance used, or intended to be used, for a therapeutic use. Under section 16 of the Act, a hazardous poison is an S7 substance or a medicine treated as a poison under section 12(2) of the Act.

Obligations on buying

Except in relation to buying from a supplier by retail, the Regulations impose conditions on those authorised to buy a regulated poison (a buyer). A buyer of a regulated poison is required to provide a written purchase order for a poison. The purchase order must contain the matters outlined in regulation 48, such as the date of the purchase order. A buyer must also provide information to show that the buyer is authorised to buy the poison, and if a buyer receives an invoice from a supplier, the buyer must keep the invoice.

Offences

It should be noted that under Chapter 5 of the Regulations, it is an offence to:

  • supply an S5 or S6 poison unless the poison is labelled and in a container that complies with the requirements in the Poisons Standard or, in an alternative way if approved by the chief executive;
  • sell an S6 poison by retail without all reasonable steps in place to ensure it is stored in child-safe packaging and not stored or sold within reach of a four-year-old child;
  • supply a sample of an S5 or S6 poison;
  • change, cover, deface or remove an approved label on a compliant container of an S5 or S6 poison;
  • decant an S5 or S6 poison from a compliant container into a new container unless the new container satisfies certain requirements;
  • fail to dispose of or transfer the contents of an S5 or S6 poison if a person becomes aware the substance is in a cracked or damaged container;
  • use a food or drink container, or cause a food or drink container to be used, to contain an S5 or S6 poison;
  • soak, wash or otherwise treat a poison container in a receptacle used to soak, wash, or treat a food or drink container;
  • dispose of waste from an S5 or S6 poison in a way that affects, or is likely to affect, the health or safety of another person or a domestic animal.

The maximum punishment for breaching any of the above is forty penalty units ($5,514).

Under the Regulations, a person also must not advertise or cause a person to advertise a prohibited substance or a hazardous poison, the maximum punishment being eighty penalty units ($11,028).

Finally, regulations 80 and 81 require that records meet specific requirements, such as being kept for five years after they are made and in English.

The maximum punishment for breaching Regulations 80 and 81 is twenty penalty units ($2,757).

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Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au