West Australians caught short of essential medication such as cholesterol-lowering drugs or the contraceptive pill will now be able to get them without a doctor's prescription.
The catch is they can only use the back-up for a lapsed prescription once in 12 months and they have to go to their local pharmacy.
The script-free move, known as the continued dispensing rule, is part of changes to WA's poisons regulations that come into effect tomorrow.
They allow pharmacists to dispense certain schedule 4 medicines, which for now is limited to statin medications such as simvastatin and oral contraceptives such as levonorgestrel.
Until now, regulations have only allowed pharmacists to give a three-day supply of a schedule 4 drug without a prescription in rare emergencies.
Now pharmacists can provide a standard supply of the contraceptive pill or statins to patients at the end of their prescription without a repeat authorisation from their GP.
A condition of the supply is that the people have to be on the medication already and the pharmacist has to be satisfied it is not possible for them to obtain a prescription from a doctor in time. The doctor who normally prescribes the drug also has to be informed within 24 hours.The Australian Medical Association's national office has previously criticised the changes as not being in the best interest of patients. It also warned that the list of drugs that could be dispensed this way might increase.