Education guide - Prescribing PBS items

Information about prescribing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) unrestricted, restricted and Authority required items.

Matching your patient’s condition with any restriction criteria listed in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (the Schedule) is a mandatory requirement. You must write a non-PBS prescription if your patient does not meet the restriction criteria outlined in the Schedule.

There are 3 broad categories of pharmaceutical benefits:

Category Description
Unrestricted

Items that can be prescribed through the PBS or Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) without restrictions on therapeutic use

Restricted benefit

Items that can be prescribed through the PBS or RPBS only if the prescriber is satisfied that the patient’s clinical condition matches the therapeutic uses listed in the Schedule

Authority required

There are 2 categories for Authority required items:

  • Authority required – restricted items that require authority approval from us or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)
  • Authority required (STREAMLINED) – restricted items that do not require authority approval from us or DVA, but must have the relevant streamlined authority code included on the prescription

Prescription approval

Prescriptions for unrestricted, restricted and Authority required (STREAMLINED) items:

  • do not require an authority approval from us or DVA unless your patient needs a quantity or number of repeats more than the maximum number listed in the Schedule
  • must be endorsed with the relevant streamlined authority code on the prescription when prescribing Authority required (STREAMLINED) items

Prescriptions for Authority required items:

  • are not valid until approval is given by us or DVA
  • must include the authority approval number on the prescription at the time of prescribing

Overview of prescribing PBS items

PBS Flowchart

Unrestricted or Restricted items

You can write a standard PBS prescription if the maximum quantity and number of repeats listed in the Schedule is enough for your patient’s treatment.

If the maximum quantity or number of repeats listed in the Schedule isn’t enough for your patient’s treatment, contact us or DVA for authority approval.

Authority required items

For Authority required items or if the maximum quantity or number of repeats listed in the Schedule isn’t enough for your patient’s treatment, contact us or DVA for authority approval. If approved, write a PBS authority prescription and endorse the authority approval number on the prescription. If it isn’t approved, you must write a non-PBS prescription.      

Authority required (STREAMLINED) items

For Authority required (STREAMLINED) items, you must write a PBS authority prescription and endorse the relevant streamlined authority code on the prescription if the maximum quantity and number of repeats listed in the Schedule is enough for your patient’s treatment.

If the maximum quantity or number of repeats listed in the Schedule isn’t enough for your patient’s treatment, contact us or DVA for authority approval.

It is not necessary to prescribe the maximum quantity or repeats if a lesser amount is enough for your patient’s needs.

Information for prescribers

Unrestricted or restricted items can be prescribed on a standard PBS prescription appropriate for your profession.

Authority required and Authority required (STREAMLINED) items must be prescribed using a PBS authority prescription or an approved PBS hospital prescription.

You can also use PBS stationery to prescribe non-PBS prescriptions. Cross out the PBS and RPBS boxes and endorse the prescription as ‘non-PBS’ or ‘Private’ to make it clear to the dispensing pharmacist.     

Information for pharmacists

It’s important that the streamlined authority code or authority approval number has been endorsed on the prescription by the prescriber. Contact the prescriber if this information is missing.

When dispensing Authority required and Authority required (STREAMLINED) items, you must enter the authority prescription number into your pharmacy dispensing software. For Authority required (STREAMLINED) items you also need to enter the streamlined authority code.

Online Claiming for PBS will validate the authority prescription information. Make sure you act on any warning or rejection messages at the time of dispensing. You can call us if you’re unsure.  

More information

Contact us for details on how to apply for PBS Authority approvals.

Contact the Veterans’ Affairs Pharmaceutical Advisory Centre for details on how to apply for RPBS Authority approvals.

Read more information about our website disclaimer.

Page last updated: 20 May 2016

This information was printed Friday 9 December 2016 from humanservices.gov.au/health-professionals/enablers/education-guide-prescribing-pbs-items It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.