Education guide - Participating public hospitals - writing PBS and RPBS prescriptions

Information about writing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions in participating public hospitals.

When you write a PBS or RPBS prescription in public hospitals participating in pharmaceutical reforms you:

  • can have up to 10 medicines on 1 prescription form, including medicines that are not accessed through the PBS or RPBS
  • must write a separate prescription if another prescriber has already prescribed an item for the patient's treatment on the same prescription form
  • must include your name, prescriber number and contact number - this can be your phone number or pager number on the prescription form. Authorised nurse practitioners and authorised midwives must also include a prescriber type

PBS and RPBS Authority medicines

You can include multiple Authority and non-Authority medicines on the same prescription. All medicines listed in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (the Schedule) as Authority required need prior approval from us or the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). If telephone approval is granted, you must write the Authority approval number in the approval column on the prescription. Authority required (STREAMLINED) medicines do not require prior approval from us or DVA. You must write the specific streamlined authority code in the approval column on the prescription.

Authority requirements

  • for increases in quantity or repeats for PBS medicine, prior approval must be obtained from us or DVA
  • the Authority prescription identification number is located on the hospital prescription form (the exact location varies) or is created if the form is computer generated. This number is required by us and the Veterans' Affairs Pharmaceutical Approvals Centre when seeking approval for PBS and RPBS Authority required medicines
  • each Authority application must have its own separate approval number
  • if written approval is granted, our delegate or DVA will manually endorse the prescription as approved

Prescribing non-PBS medicine

Many PBS and RPBS medicines are restricted to specific therapeutic uses only. This is defined in the Schedule which is available on the PBS website.

For example, lactulose is listed on the PBS for the treatment of hepatic coma or precoma (chronic porto-systemic encephalopathy) or constipation in patients with malignant neoplasia. Lactulose is also listed as an Authority required (STREAMLINED) medicine for palliative care patients where constipation is a problem. For the use of lactulose outside these restrictions, the PBS subsidy does not apply and you must write non PBS in the approval column. You must write non-PBS in the approval column if you want to prescribe:

  • a medicine not listed on the PBS
  • for a patient not entitled to PBS, for example, an inpatient
  • outside the PBS restrictions
  • a medicine outside its PBS manner of administration, for example, an eye ointment for topical non-ophthalmic use or injections being used in a nebuliser

If you want to prescribe a quantity or a number of repeats exceeding the maximum quantity or number of repeats listed in the Schedule, you must get prior approval from us or DVA to obtain the medicine at the PBS subsidised rate or you must write non-PBS in the approval column.

PBS and RPBS prescription - what needs to be included

  1. hospital name, address, telephone number and hospital provider number - this is generally printed on every hospital prescription form
  2. authority prescription identification number is required when requesting a PBS authority approval - the exact location of this number on the prescription form may vary slightly in each state
  3. patient's name, address, date of birth, hospital number and location (fill in details or attach computer generated label from patient's hospital chart)
    1. patient's Medicare number - have this available when seeking a PBS Authority approval for Authority required medicine
    2. patient's entitlement details
    3. if a computer generated label is used for patient name and address, the patient's name needs to be handwritten
  4. select the appropriate box - PBS or RPBS
  5. patient's weight if applicable
  6. medicine name and form, for example, tablets, capsules or injections
  7. medicine strength
  8. dose instructions for use
  9. quantity to be dispensed
  10. number of repeats if permitted and required
  11. prescriber or pharmacist to indicate whether the medicine has been supplied
  12. approval number and additional notes on the prescription:
    • if the medicine requires prior Authority approval, and you have obtained an Authority approval number, write the approval number in this column
    • if the medicine is listed in the Schedule as Authority required (STREAMLINED), write the specific streamlined authority code in this column
    • if your patient is not eligible for a PBS subsidy for a medicine, and you want to have a medicine supplied as non-PBS, write non-PBS in this column
    • if you want to have a medicine dispensed as a Regulation 24 prescription, write Reg 24 in this column
    • any other notes you feel may be relevant to the pharmacist
  13. your name, prescriber number and contact number
  14. prescriber type if you are an authorised nurse practitioner or authorised midwife
  15. your signature and the date form is written

You must follow state and territory legislation.

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