Local anaesthetic and adrenaline medicines reclassification changes approved

Last year the Council submitted an application to Medsafe’s Medicines Classification Committee to widen the classification of the following medicines, allowing access to administer/use the following medicines without a prescription:

  • For dental hygienists (without local anaesthetic exclusions on their scopes of practice):  
    • topical local anaesthetics: benzocaine, tetracaine hydrochloride, lidocaine and prilocaine
    • injectable local anaesthetics: articaine, lidocaine and prilocaine with or without felypressin.
  • For oral health therapists, dental therapists, and dental hygienists: adrenaline 0.1% injection for use in a medical emergency.

The application was approved, and on 24 May 2023 the gazette notice was published effecting the change (Gazette notice 2023-go2081).

Oral health therapists, dental hygienists (who can administer LA) and dental therapists can now administer or use the above listed topical and local anaesthetics within their scope of practice, and adrenaline to manage medical emergencies without the need for a prescription or a standing order. 

This will alleviate the administrative burden to develop and maintain standing orders. As with other areas of practice, the Council relies on practitioners’ ethical and professional obligations to use these medicines safely, and to seek guidance or refer when needed.  

The Council thank the various stakeholders that supported the Council’s applications over the last few years to effect these changes.