Prescribing medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic

Information for GPs and other prescribers about medicines and COVID-19 | Updated regularly as the situation changes.

Prescribing medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, your practice is operating under some different regulations and conditions. Find out more here.


Dexamethasone and COVID-19

Dexamethasone is being hailed in the media as the 'world's first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce risk of death'. Here's what we know about this medicine.

Read the full article


Antiviral medicines and the treatment of COVID-19

A range of different medicines are currently being trialed for potential treatment or prevention of COVID-19 infection. One group of medicines under investigation are antiviral medicines, some experimental and others already in use. Read more about the current evidence for remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir and oseltamivir.

Read the full article


Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19

In response to international interest in the use of hydroxychloroquine for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, we look at emerging evidence, current guidelines and whether hydroxychloroquine is actually a ‘miracle drug’ that will save lives during this pandemic. This article will be regularly updated.

Read the whole article

Australian Prescriber has addressed the ethical dimensions of prescribing this medicine in an editorial.

Principles of ethical prescribing for self and others: Hydroxychloroquine in the COVID-19 pandemic.


Electronic prescribing to improve safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Electronic prescribing is part of a wider government strategy to support safer medicine management and improve the efficiency of the PBS. It will not be mandatory, but provides prescribers and their patients with a safe and secure alternative choice to paper prescriptions. 

Read more about the initiative


Medicines view available in My Health Record

Another source of important medicines information to support a telehealth consultation is the ‘Medicines View’ in My Health Record.

Over 22.7 million people have a My Health Record, and clinicians using securely connected hospital, general practice and pharmacy systems are able to view medicines and allergy information in the system. This can provide an important overview of medicines and allergy information for people and their healthcare providers.

The ‘Medicines View’ in My Health Record is a single summary view that pulls together medicines and allergies information from any sources where it exists in a patient’s record. This may include

  • a Shared Health Summary (GP-entered)
  • a Pharmacist Shared Medicines List (pharmacist-entered)
  • the Personal Health Record (patient-entered)
  • Discharge Summaries from hospitals
  • Prescribe and Dispense documents (from connected GP and pharmacy systems) and
  • PBS data, which is contained in the Medicare Overview of My Health Record.

For more information, visit the My Health Record website


PBS restriction criteria lifted for some medicines

For people with chronic long-term health conditions needing treatment with certain PBS-subsidised medicines, staying on therapy just got a little easier.

Continuing treatment can require evidence of benefit

Some medicines require certain criteria to be met before a person can continue to be prescribed that medicine through the PBS. These medicines are often highly specialised and are used to treat chronic conditions such as Crohn disease, cystic fibrosis, severe rheumatoid arthritis or severe asthma.

Clinical criteria are used to confirm that a medicine is still of benefit, and that the person should continue to receive it as a PBS-subsidised therapy. Each time a prescription is prepared, the prescriber needs to provide documentation that these criteria are being met.

Clinical criteria can include many different types of measurements, from how well a person’s lungs are working through to the level of different disease markers in a blood test or the number of body joints showing active inflammation due to arthritis.

Exemptions now in place to 30 September 2020

The Australian Government recognises that attending appointments so certain clinical criteria information can be collected may not be appropriate for some people during the current COVID-19 pandemic. In response, an interim exemption measure has been implemented for some medicines.

During the exemption these medicines can continue to be prescribed without the supporting documentation of certain clinical criteria needing to be provided.

If a treating medical professional considers their patient may be at increased risk of COVID-19 infection or is impacted by quarantine, and that telehealth cannot provide the necessary information, they can now lodge a request for an exemption with Services Australia (Medicare).

People must have previously received a prescription for the eligible PBS medicine, and the prescriber is legally required to note the reasons for the proposed exemption as well as how it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All other PBS restriction criteria that are not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will still apply.

Learn more about this temporary measure including what medicines are eligible for exemption during this time.