What you need to know as an approved prescriber of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medicines.

You must have a prescriber number to be able to prescribe medicines to patients. Read more about getting a provider and prescriber number.

Before you write a prescription for PBS items, check your patient is eligible for the PBS.

You can only prescribe a PBS listed medicine once in one day if it’s the same medicine for the same person. If you provide the original supply and all repeat supplies on one occasion, you need to:

  • write or print either ‘Reg 24’, ‘Regulation 24’, ‘one supply’, or ‘1 supply’ on the prescription
  • sign the prescription with your initials.

You can prescribe up to 3 medicines on standard PBS prescription stationery. There are exceptions for:

  • optometrists
  • Authority Required medicines
  • Authority Required (STREAMLINED) medicines.

In these cases, you can only prescribe one medicine per prescription.

On the prescription, include all of the following:

  • your name, practice address and prescriber number
  • your patient’s name and address
  • whether you’re prescribing a PBS or RPBS medicine
  • the name, strength, active ingredient and form of medicine
  • the dose and instructions for use
  • the quantity and number of repeats
  • your signature
  • the date you wrote the prescription - you can’t forward or backdate the prescription
  • your patient’s Medicare number and any entitlement details, including Commonwealth concession, pension or health care card details or veterans’ entitlement number
  • whether a brand substitution is permitted, if it applies.

For Authority Required medicines, you also need to add the:

  • authority prescription number - you need to quote this number when applying for telephone approvals
  • authority approval number.

For Authority Required (streamlined) medicines, you need to add the 4 or 5 digit streamlined authority code from the schedule.

Find out how to order prescription stationery.

The active ingredient must be included on computer generated prescriptions. Read more about active ingredient prescribing requirements on the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

Some PBS items don’t need an authority approval. This is called the streamlined process. You can find the streamlined authority code on the PBS website, against the PBS item indications.

Authority prescriptions must be annotated with a valid authority approval number by you, the approved prescriber. Learn how you can apply for a PBS authority.

An authority approval is also required for most Highly Specialised Drugs (HSDs) listings and increased quantities and repeats. This includes Complex Authority Required Highly Specialised Drugs (CAR HSDs) and PBS trastuzumab for early-stage breast cancer. Read more about Section 100 - highly specialised drugs program on the PBS website.

When prescribing for a Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) patient, you’ll need to seek authority approval for RPBS prescriptions. The process is similar to non-DVA patients.

Read more about prior approval of prescriptions for RPBS patients on the DVA website.

When prescribing for a DVA patient, they must hold a pharmaceutical and health treatment card. Read more about these Veteran health cards on the DVA website.

If your patient’s condition doesn’t meet the PBS indications you’ll need to write a non-PBS prescription. You can find the PBS indications on the medicine listing on the PBS website.

If you write a non-PBS prescription using a prescription pad or computer-generated PBS prescription paper, you need to:

  • cross out the PBS and RPBS boxes
  • endorse the prescription as non-PBS.

Find out how to order prescription stationery.

If you’re a nurse practitioner, you need to have collaborative arrangements in place to prescribe PBS medicines.

A collaborative arrangement means you:

  • work for a medical practice that has at least one medical practitioner
  • see patients a medical practitioner refers to you
  • have a single agreement with a medical practitioner
  • have written records showing you work collaboratively with a medical practitioner.

Check extra conditions for prescribing some medicines. These are:

  • Continuing Therapy Only (CTO), if a medical practitioner starts treatment and prescribes medicine, but an authorised nurse practitioner continues prescribing it.
  • Shared Care Model (SCM), if an authorised nurse practitioner and a medical practitioner share the care of a patient with an agreed management plan.

To check if a medicine is CTO or SCM select the Note information listed with the medicine on the PBS website.

If you’re prescribing under CTO or SCM, you don’t need to note this on the prescription.

The national residential medication chart (NRMC) improves medication safety for your patients. It also reduces administrative work for prescribers, aged care staff and pharmacists when ordering, administering and supplying medicines.

Read more about the NRMC on the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care website.

You can prescribe and supply most medicines directly from the NRMC without a separate written prescription. This includes PBS and RPBS claiming by pharmacists if applicable.

Certain medicines still require a written prescription. They also require an order on the NRMC. These medicines include:

  • all PBS authority-required items that need prior approval online, by telephone or in writing, including PBS or RPBS items with increased quantities
  • PBS items only available under section 100, such as some Highly Specialised Drugs (HSDs). Read more about Section 100 items on the PBS website
  • controlled drugs, such as Schedule 8 medicines. Contact your state or territory health department for more information on Schedule 8 medicines
  • extemporaneously compounded medicines
  • medicines that are subject to state or territory restrictions.
Page last updated: 15 June 2024.
QC 71057