Active Ingredient Prescribing is coming

22 Jan 2021

From 1 February 2021, all PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) and RPBS (Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits) prescriptions must meet the new requirements for active ingredient prescribing.

Active Ingredient Prescribing is part of a wider government initiative to ensure consistent and standardised medicines information, to support safe and appropriate use of medicines. 

Key points relating to these changes and asthma medicines

  • From 1 February 2021, most prescriptions generated for supply under the PBS/RPBS require the inclusion of active ingredient names, for example:    
  • These changes will not apply to all PBS/RPBS prescriptions; some medicines and prescribing situations are exempt:
    • Handwritten prescriptions
    • Paper-based medication charts in residential aged care
    • Medicines with four or more active ingredients
    • Other items excluded for safety or practicality reasons (e.g. vaccines, nutrients, vitamin supplements) - see List of Excluded Medicinal Items.
  • Prescribing software (e.g., Best Practice, Medical Director, Zedmed) is already changing to automatically include active ingredients on prescriptions. Prescribers must ensure they are using the updated software by 1 February.
  • Prescribers may still prescribe specific brands of medicines if clinically necessary. Prescribers may:
    • Include a brand name on the prescription, which will appear after the active ingredient name/s, for example: 

NB: inclusion of brand name on the prescription is not sufficient to prevent brand substitution.

  • Disallow brand substitution if a specific brand is required for the patient (i.e., inclusion of brand name and mark ‘brand substitution not permitted’ box)
  • Add a brand if required for PBS Authority.
  • Prescribing software will also alert prescribers when a prescribed medicine is one they should consider prescribing by brand, as well as active ingredient if clinically necessary (e.g. fluticasone propionate, fluticasone furoate) – see List of Medicines for Brand Consideration.
  • Prescribing software will not be able to automatically include brand names on prescriptions by default, therefore prescribers will need to determine whether a brand name is clinically necessary for each prescription.
  • Patients still have a choice of brand at the point of dispensing (if brand substitution is permitted).
  • According to NPS MedicineWise, the PSA and the Pharmacy Guild, the Department has agreed to provide a six-month grace period for pharmacy, ceasing 31 July 2021.

More information 

Visit the PBS website for more information about active ingredient prescribing, including factsheets and FAQs. 

Further, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has developed documents to support health professionals, and NPS MedicineWise has information for health professionals. 

28 Jan 2021

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