Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) provides affordable and reliable access to necessary medicines for Australians.


The PBS provides medicines at a lower cost to Australian residents. The PBS also provides for visitors from other countries where there is a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement with Australia.

The Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) provides access to pharmaceuticals and wound dressings, including items available under the PBS, to the following people:

  • eligible veterans
  • war widows and widowers, and
  • any dependents

Claiming PBS medicines

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

Each time you get a prescription filled, you must show the pharmacist your Medicare card. You should also show one or more of the following cards, if you have one:

  • concession card
  • health care card
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs card
  • PBS Safety Net card

It is important you have your cards with you when you get your prescription filled. This will ensure you pay the right amount for your medicines.

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.

Collecting PBS medicines for someone else

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

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

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

If you cannot give the required 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, if one is available.

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

Read more information about generic brand standards and safety on the generic prescription medicines fact sheet on the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s website.

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.

Page last updated: 27 April 2017