Active Ingredient Prescribing

The Australian Government mandated that from 1st February prescribers must include the active ingredient names when preparing prescriptions for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation PBS (RPBS) medicines.

This means that from February onwards, patients will be provided with prescriptions based on the active ingredient, rather than the brand name of the medication.

Exceptions to this arrangement include:

  • Hand-written prescriptions
  • Paper-based residential medication charts
  • Computer generated ‘free-text’ prescriptions e.g. for extemporaneous items
  • Prescriptions for medicines with four or more active ingredients
  • Prescriptions for medicines on the Excluded List prepared by the Australian Commission for Quality and safety in Healthcare
  • Non-PBS/RPBS prescriptions – while not regulated by the Commonwealth, the same principles are expected to apply to non-PBS/RPBS prescriptions being generated by prescriber software

While prescribers are expected to comply with the new requirements from 1 February 2021, the Government has agreed to a period of grace of six months for pharmacists to dispense and claim non-conformant PBS/RPBS prescriptions as pharmaceutical benefits. This should avoid patients being negatively impacted as the new requirements come into effect.

In order to optimise patient care, members should ensure staff understand the changes and are encouraged to discuss the new arrangements with their local prescribers and patients.

The Guild has been working with Government and other stakeholders to address safety concerns and other Active Ingredient Prescribing related problems. Any issues raised with the Guild are brought to the attention of the Government to be resolved as soon as possible. Members are advised to stay vigilant and alert to any safety related issues caused by Active Ingredient Prescribing, and to send a de-identified copy of any problematic prescriptions to so that we are able to follow up with the Government and other stakeholders.

Page last updated on: 14 July 2021