Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) gives timely, reliable and affordable access to 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

How to claim 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:

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.

Don't get more PBS medicine than you need. You should only get medicine when you need it.

How to collect 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, and
  • PBS Safety Net card details.

You must also sign the script form at the pharmacy to prove you collected the medicine for them.

If you can’t provide these details, the pharmacy may charge the full amount for the medicine.

What generic brands are

Generic brands:

  • are cheaper
  • have the same active ingredients as existing medicines, and
  • meet Australian standards.

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

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

When you take or send your PBS medicine overseas

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

You can only take or send PBS medicine out of Australia that you or the person you're travelling with need to take.

It’s illegal to take or send PBS medicines out of Australia for someone else.

Read about travelling overseas with PBS medicines.

How to dispose of medicine

If you have medicine you no longer need, you should dispose of it. The easiest way to do this is to take it to your community pharmacy. They'll dispose of your medicine safely for free. Read more about the National Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines on the Department of Health website.

Page last updated: 10 January 2018