Active ingredient prescribing

Using active ingredient names on prescriptions helps increase community awareness, promote uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines and contribute to a financially sustainable PBS.

Active ingredient prescribing

Improving medicine knowledge, maintaining choice

PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) and RPBS (Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits) prescriptions now need to include information about the active ingredients in each medicine. The inclusion of active ingredients on prescriptions will be mandatory from 1 February 2021. This initiative supports other government activities underway that encourage general awareness around active ingredients, such as the TGA initiative to make active ingredient names on medicine packaging easier to locate and read. 

Active ingredient prescribing aims to:

  • ensure the identification of active ingredient names on all PBS and RPBS prescriptions
  • encourage greater consistency in how medicines information is displayed
  • increase patients' understanding of the medicines they are taking
  • support conversation between consumers, prescribers and pharmacists about options for generic and biosimilar medicines that contain the same active ingredients (and are often cheaper).

Under the regulations, prescribers are required to include the active ingredient on all PBS and RPBS prescriptions except for:

  • handwritten prescriptions
  • paper-based medication charts in residential aged care settings
  • medicines with four or more active ingredients, and
  • a small number of items specifically excluded from active ingredient prescribing. 

A transition period has been arranged to ensure prescribers have sufficient time to update prescribing software to versions which meet the new requirements. From 1 February 2021, PBS/RPBS prescriptions must meet these requirements.

Read more about this initiative. 

Any questions about active ingredient prescribing should be addressed to [email protected]

NPS MedicineWise resources for consumers


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