Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

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

Who can get it

The PBS provides cheaper medicines to:

The Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) gives access to PBS items and more for:

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

Claiming PBS medicines

To get cheaper medicine when filling a prescription, show your:

  • Medicare card, and
  • concession card
  • health care card
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs card, or
  • PBS Safety Net card

If you don’t have your cards, you may have to pay more. If this happens, ask your pharmacist for an official PBS refund receipt. This isn’t a regular sales receipt.

To get a refund:

  • submit your form at a service centre or by post to the address on the form

You may not get a full refund for more expensive brands of medicine.

The PBS Safety Net can help with the cost of many prescriptions.

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

Collecting for someone else

You can collect PBS medicines for someone else if you provide their:

  • prescription
  • Medicare card details
  • concession card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs card details
  • PBS Safety Net card details, and
  • sign to prove you collected the medicine

You may have to pay full price if you can’t provide these details.

Generic brands

You can ask your pharmacist for a generic brand of medicine.

Generic brands are cheaper, have the same active ingredients and meet Australian standards.

Read about generic brand standards and safety on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

Taking or sending your PBS medicine overseas

There are laws and restrictions on the amount and types of PBS medicines you can take or send overseas.

It’s illegal to take or send PBS medicines out of Australia that aren’t for you or for someone travelling with you.

If you need to travel, read about travelling overseas with PBS medicines.

Page last updated: 29 May 2017