Education guide - Medical practitioners in private practice - writing PBS and RPBS prescriptions

Information about writing PBS and RPBS prescriptions for medical practitioners in private practice.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is a system of subsidising the cost of many prescription medicines. The subsidies are available to Australian residents and eligible overseas visitors.

Eligible veterans, war widows and dependants are entitled to medicines through the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) which is administered by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA).

As a medical practitioner, you may prescribe items listed in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (the Schedule) which are identified by the 'MP' symbol. You must ensure your patient satisfies PBS entitlement requirements and meets eligibility criteria in the Schedule for supply of the medicine under the PBS. It is your responsibility to follow state or territory law as well as PBS requirements for prescriptions to be eligible for PBS subsidy.

There are 3 broad categories of pharmaceutical benefits:

Category Description
Unrestricted Medicine that can be prescribed through the PBS or RPBS without restrictions on therapeutic use
Restricted Medicine 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. These medicines are identified in the Schedule as a restricted benefit
Authority required

There are 2 categories for Authority listed medicines:

  • Authority required – restricted medicines that require prior approval from us or DVA. These medicines are identified in the Schedule as Authority required
  • Authority required (STREAMLINED) – restricted medicines that do not require prior approval from us or DVA, but must have the relevant streamlined authority code included on the prescription. These medicines are identified in the Schedule as Authority required (STREAMLINED)

PBS stationery

Prescribe PBS medicines using approved PBS stationery.

For unrestricted and restricted PBS medicines you should prescribe using standard personalised or non-personalised PBS prescriptions.

For Authority required or Authority required (STREAMLINED) medicines prescribe using personalised or non-personalised PBS authority prescriptions.

Prescribing requirements

Remember when prescribing:

  • a PBS prescription must be for the treatment of the person named on the PBS prescription
  • you cannot prescribe more than 1 PBS prescription for the same medicine for the same person on the same day
  • regulation 24 allows for the original supply and all repeat supplies to be provided at the same time
  • you can prescribe up to 3 medicines on a standard PBS prescription. For Authority required or Authority required (STREAMLINED) medicines, you can only prescribe 1 medicine on the prescription
  • you should not prescribe PBS medicines and non-PBS medicines on the same prescription. The exception is PBS hospital prescriptions
  • you can prescribe up to 10 medicines on a hospital prescription and these medicines can be a mixture of PBS and RPBS, non-PBS, Authority required and Authority required (STREAMLINED) medicines
  • for authority required medicines, you must obtain prior approval from us or DVA unless it is an Authority required (STREAMLINED) medicine. Prior approval is also required from us or DVA for increased quantities and or additional repeats above those specified in the Schedule

Prescription requirements

Prescription requirements

  1. your name and practice address
  2. your prescriber number
  3. patient's name and address
  4. indicate the box that is relevant to your patient, PBS or RPBS
  5. name, strength and form of medicine
  6. dose or instructions for use
  7. quantity and number of repeats, no abbreviations
  8. your signature
  9. date prescription is written – forward or back dating is not permitted
  10. if appropriate, tick 'Brand substitution not permitted' box
  11. Medicare, concession and veterans' card numbers

Additional requirements for authority prescriptions:

  1. authority prescription number – this is used by the pharmacy as a reference when dispensing an approved PBS authority prescription and any repeats from that prescription. You will be required to quote the authority prescription number when applying for telephone approvals
  2. authority approval number – this is the approval number given by us or DVA and is essential for Authority required medicines. For Authority required (STREAMLINED) medicines, write the 4 digit streamlined authority code from the Schedule

PBS Authority prescription

Non-­PBS prescriptions

The standard or computerised PBS prescription may be used to write a non-PBS prescription. However, you must cross out the PBS and RPBS boxes and endorse the prescription as 'non-PBS'.

You must write a non-PBS prescription to prescribe:

  • outside the PBS or RPBS restrictions – for example, when your patient's clinical condition does not match the indications listed in the Schedule
  • a quantity or number of repeats exceeding the maximum PBS quantity without an approved PBS authority prescription
  • a medicine or form and strength of a medicine not listed in the Schedule
  • for a patient not eligible for subsidised PBS medicines
  • for a medicine outside its PBS manner of administration – for example, a PBS eye ointment for topical non-ophthalmic use

More information

Contact us at PBS general enquiries, PBS authority telephone applications and RPBS authority telephone applications.

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Page last updated: 5 July 2018