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Active Ingredient Prescribing update

Published 11 February 2021

It is now mandatory for all Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (RPBS) prescriptions to include information about the active ingredients in medicines.


This change came into effect on 1 February 2021 and was part of the government’s 2018–2019 Electronic Prescribing Budget initiative that was legislated in 2019 under the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment (Active Ingredient Prescribing) Regulations 2019.  

Exceptions to this mandate include: 

  • handwritten prescriptions
  • paper-based medication charts in the residential aged care sector
  • medicinal items with four or more active ingredients
  • other items determined by the Secretary for safety or practicality reasons such as vaccines or nutrients.  

To support pharmacies and ensure consumers have continued access to the PBS/RPBS subsidised medicines during the transition, the Department has agreed to provide a six-month grace period for pharmacies, ceasing 31 July 2021.

See below links for useful resources and information around active ingredient prescribing: 

NPS MedicineWise

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Last updated: 28 April 2021