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.
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 became mandatory on 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.
To support pharmacies, and ensure consumers have continued access to PBS/RPBS subsidised medicines during the transition, the Department has agreed to provide a six-month grace period for pharmacy, ceasing 31 July 2021.
Within this period, if a pharmacy receives a prescription that does not meet active ingredient prescribing requirements, the pharmacist should contact the prescriber and request the prescription be re-issued. If the prescriber is unable to issue a compliant prescription for any reason, the pharmacy may supply and claim for the medicine as normal under the PBS or RPBS without penalty.
From 1 August 2021, new prescriptions that do not meet active ingredient prescribing requirements cannot be dispensed as PBS prescriptions and will need to be reissued in alignment with active ingredient prescribing requirements, or dispensed as private prescriptions.
Read more about this initiative.
Documents prepared by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to support clinicians are also available:
- A user guide to support prescribers
- A fact sheet for clinicians
- List of Medicines for Brand Consideration
- List of Excluded Medicinal Items
Any questions about active ingredient prescribing should be addressed to [email protected]
NPS MedicineWise resources for health professionals
Active ingredient prescribing and primary care (for prescribers)
Date published : 30 November 2020
Active ingredient prescribing: supporting knowledge and choice (for pharmacists)
Date published : 30 November 2020
NPS MedicineWise resources for consumers
- Active ingredient prescribing: all you need to know (including translated information in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Greek, Hindi, Italian, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese)
- Medicines and brand names, explained
- Consumer medicine information (CMI) explained
- Finding good information about medicines
- Managing your medicines
Find out more
- For more information about active ingredient prescribing, send your questions to [email protected]
- The Department of Health has prepared information about active ingredient prescribing, including a fact sheet for health professionals and FAQs for consumers.
- The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has prepared information for clinicians.
- Find information on medicines by active ingredient or brand name using Medicine Finder.
- For questions about prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines, talk to a health professional through Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE)(1300 633 424).
- Keep track of medicines and access important health info any time and anywhere, especially in emergencies, using the MedicineWise app.
- Know the active ingredient(s) in your medicine
- New changes to prescriptions highlight the active ingredient in your medicine
- Helping people know the active ingredient of medicines in English and ten other languages
- Active ingredient prescribing: what health professionals need to know about new regulations from 1 February