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Be PBS aware before you take to the air this Christmas.

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Media Release

Be PBS aware before you take to the air this Christmas 18 December 2007

Minister for Human Services Senator Joe Ludwig encourages people going overseas to be aware of the rules this Christmas holidays when travelling with Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) drugs.

“It is illegal to take or send PBS subsidised medicines overseas if it is not for the personal use of the traveller or someone travelling with them,” Senator Ludwig said.

If caught, the penalty for illegally exporting PBS medicine can lead to a fine up to $5000 and/or up to two years imprisonment.

“Without proper documentation showing that the medicine is for personal use, travellers may be suspected of illegally exporting PBS medicine and their medicine may be detained by Customs.”

“There are simple steps that overseas travelers can take to ensure that they don’t ruin their holiday by unknowingly taking medicines illegally out of Australia.”

“Consult with your doctor to assess if you require PBS medicine while you are away. If you do, ask your doctor to provide a letter detailing what it is for, the dosage and stating that it is for your personal use.”

“When you’re packing, it is important to leave your medicine in its original packaging, so that it can be easily identified by Customs. Make sure the letter from your doctor is carried with you.”

“Before you leave Australia, contact the embassy of the country you're visiting to ensure the medicine you are intending to take with you is legal there,” Senator Ludwig said.

Medicare Australia’s travelling with PBS medicine enquiry line 1800 500 147. Further information is also available on the website at

Background information

The Australian Government through Medicare Australia and the Australian Customs Service are working on an ongoing operation that aims to minimise abuse of the PBS, ensuring those who deliberately set out to illegally export PBS drugs are caught. Defrauding the PBS system means that Australian taxpayers end up paying more and could ultimately threaten the scheme.

The Australian Government via Medicare Australia is ensuring that doctors and their patients are kept informed, by way of ongoing public information campaigns to aid travellers in avoiding unnecessary penalties.

Media Contact: Barb Barrett 0448 469 787.