Participating public hospitals - writing PBS and RPBS prescriptions

Information about writing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions in participating public hospitals.

When you write a PBS or RPBS prescription in public hospitals participating in pharmaceutical reforms you:

  • can have up to 10 medicines on 1 prescription form. This includes medicines that are not accessed through the PBS or RPBS
  • must write a separate prescription if another prescriber has already prescribed an item for the patient's treatment on the same prescription form
  • must include your name, prescriber number and contact number. This can be your phone number or pager number. Allied health prescribers, authorised nurse practitioners and authorised midwives must also include their prescriber type.

PBS and RPBS authority medicines

You can include multiple authority and non-authority medicines on the same prescription. All medicines listed on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (the Schedule) as requiring authority need prior approval from either:

  • us
  • the Department of Veterans' Affairs

If we or DVA approve over the phone, include the approval number in the approval column on the prescription.

You don’t need approval from us or DVA for Authority Required (STREAMLINED) medicines. However, you must include the streamlined authority code in the approval column on the prescription.

Authority requirements

Authority requirements mean that:

  • you must get prior approval from us or DVA for
    • increases in the quantity of PBS medicines
    • repeats for PBS medicines
  • we and the Veterans' Affairs Pharmaceutical Approvals Centre need the authority prescription identification number when you’re seeking approval for PBS and RPBS Authority Required medicines. This number is on the hospital prescription form or will be generated from your prescribing software if the form is computer generated
  • each authority application must have a unique approval number
  • if we or DVA give written approval, we’ll manually endorse the prescription as approved.

Prescribing non-PBS medicine

Many PBS and RPBS medicines are for specific therapeutic uses only. The Schedule on the PBS website defines the restrictions.

For example, the Schedule lists Lactulose for the treatment of hepatic coma or precoma (chronic porto-systemic encephalopathy) or constipation in patients with malignant neoplasia. It also lists Lactulose as an Authority Required (STREAMLINED) medicine for palliative care patients with constipation. The PBS subsidy doesn’t apply if lactulose is for other purposes. If it’s for anything else, you must write ‘non-PBS’ in the approval column.

You must write ‘non-PBS’ in the approval column if you want to prescribe:

  • a medicine not listed on the Schedule
  • for a patient not entitled to the PBS, for example, an inpatient
  • outside of the PBS restrictions
  • a medicine outside its PBS manner of administration, for example, an eye ointment for topical non-ophthalmic use. 

You need prior approval from us or DVA to prescribe medicines at the PBS-subsidised rate if you need:

  • a number of repeats that exceeds the maximum quantity
  • more than the number of repeats listed in the Schedule.

If you don’t have approval, you must write ‘non-PBS’ in the approval column.

The sample prescription below shows where to write some information such as the approval number.

PBS and RPBS prescriptions - what you need to include

You must prescribe in line with Section 40 of the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Regulations 2017 available on the Federal Register of Legislation website. Include:

  • hospital name, address, telephone number and hospital provider number. These details are usually on every hospital prescription form
  • authority prescription identification number if requesting approval for a PBS authority medicine. The location of this number on the prescription form may vary between each state
  • patient's name, address, date of birth, hospital number and location. Fill in these details or attach a computer-generated label from patient's hospital chart. If you are using a label you must ensure that all copies of the prescription form is labelled
  • patient's Medicare number. Have this available when seeking a PBS Authority approval for Authority required medicines
  • patient's entitlement details
  • a tick in the appropriate box - PBS or RPBS
  • patient's weight if applicable
  • medicine name and form, for example, tablets, capsules or injections
  • medicine strength
  • dose instructions for use
  • quantity for the pharmacist to dispense
  • number of repeats if permitted and required
  • approval number in the approvals column
  • additional notes n the approvals column, such as
    • the approval number if the medicine requires prior authority approval, and you’ve obtained an authority approval number
    • the specific streamlined authority code if the Schedule lists the medicine as Authority Required (STREAMLINED)
    • the words ‘non-PBS’ if your patient isn’t eligible for a PBS subsidy for a medicine
    • the words ‘Reg 24’, ‘one supply’ or ‘1 supply’ if you want to have a medicine dispensed and supplied on the one occasion of a quantity that is usually exceeding the number of units that could be otherwise prescribed
    • any other notes you feel may be relevant to the pharmacist
  • your name, prescriber number and contact number
  • prescriber type if you're an allied health prescriber
  • your signature and the date form is completed.

When supplying medicine, the prescriber or pharmacist must indicate on the prescription that they’ve supplied it.

More information

Read more about:

Contact us at PBS general enquiries, PBS authority telephone applications or RPBS authority telephone applications.

To give feedback on our education resources, contact us.

Page last updated: 17 November 2022.
QC 32016