Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Helps cover the cost of a wide range of prescription medicines.


If you are an Australian resident or a visitor from a country with a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement with Australia, you could get your medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at a lower cost.

Eligible veterans, war widowers and their dependants can get PBS medicines plus some other medicines at a lower cost under the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS).

Claiming PBS medicines

If you are eligible and PBS medicines are prescribed to you, you will get them at the reduced cost.

If you or your family need a lot of medicines in a calendar year, the PBS Safety Net helps you with the cost of your medicines.

To make sure you pay the right amount for your medicines, each time you get a prescription filled you must show the pharmacist your current:

  • Medicare card
  • a concession, health care or Department of Veterans’ Affairs card, if you have one, and
  • PBS Safety Net card if you have one

It is important you have your cards with you when you get your prescription filled.

If you do not have your cards you may have to pay more for your medicines. If this happens, ask your pharmacist for an official PBS refund receipt. This is not a regular sales receipt.

To get a refund:

If you choose a more expensive brand of medicine you may need to pay more. This may not be fully refunded.

Do not get more medicine than you need. You should only get PBS medicines when you need them.

Claiming PBS medicines for someone else

You can collect PBS medicines for someone else. You will need to give the pharmacist the person’s:

  • prescription
  • Medicare card details
  • concession card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs card details, if they have one, and
  • PBS Safety Net card details, if they have one

You will need to sign as an agent to prove you have received the PBS medicine on their behalf.

If you cannot give these details, you may have to pay full price for the medicine.

Less expensive or generic brands

You can ask your pharmacist to supply a less expensive brand of your prescribed medicine.

Less expensive or generic brands have the same active ingredients. They might look different, but they still meet the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s high standards of quality, safety and effectiveness.

Taking or sending your PBS medicine overseas

If you are planning a trip overseas, and you need prescription medicine for the trip, you need to organise this before you travel.

There are national laws and restrictions that govern the amount and types of PBS medicines you can take or send overseas. It is illegal to take or send PBS medicines out of Australia that are not for your personal use, or the use of someone travelling with you.

Read more about travelling overseas with PBS medicines.

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