Medicines use in physiotherapy practice

This paper provides background information on the use of medicines and prescribing in physiotherapy practice.



This guidance covers the basics of medicines law, categories of medicines and medicines frameworks. It also describes the pathway of medicines use and the relevant aspects of scope of practice that need to be considered.

Three different pieces of law control the use of medicines in the UK. These laws overlap, so you need to be aware that some medicines used in practice will be controlled by all three pieces of law:

The Human Medicines Regulations (2012) controls the use of all products defined as medicines and those professions which are authorised prescribers. These regulations consolidated and repealed most of The Medicines Act (1968). The remaining parts of The Medicines Act do not directly affect physiotherapists’ practise.

The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) controls all substances - not just medicines that are defined as being specifically open to abuse and dangerous. These substances are collectively referred to as ‘controlled drugs’.

The Misuse of Drugs Regulations (2001) categorises controlled drugs to ensure that patients who require controlled drugs for prescribed medical needs can have access to them under special prescribing controls known as ‘scheduling’.

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