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Early resupply rules for repeat supplies of some PBS medicines.

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MEDIA RELEASE Minister for Health and Ageing

Tony Abbott MHR

22 December 2005 ABB177/05

Early resupply rules for repeat supplies of some PBS medicines

In this year’s Budget, the Australian Government announced that it would remove the financial incentive for patients to use the ‘immediate supply’ provisions of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to obtain repeat supplies of certain medicines in excess of their needs. ‘Immediate supply’ for the purposes of the Budget change refers to the dispensing by pharmacies of repeat prescriptions immediately. It does not refer to doctors’ ability to authorise the dispensing of repeat prescriptions immediately. This is unchanged.

Because patients who had qualified for the Safety Net often took advantage of the authority the pharmacy had to use ‘immediate supply’ provisions, PBS prescription volumes have typically been 50 per cent higher in December (when large numbers of people have qualified for the safety net) than in January (when people have mostly lost their safety net entitlement).

From 1 January 2006, certain repeat medicines dispensed within 20 days of the previous supply under this ‘immediate supply’ provision will fall outside the PBS safety net. This means that, when repeat prescriptions are filled within 20 days of the previous supply, the

cost of the medicine will not count towards the safety net threshold and the medicine will not be available at a reduced co-payment if the safety net threshold has been reached.

This new rule will apply to certain PBS medicines for long term therapy. It will only apply when a repeat supply is obtained within 20 days. It will not apply to medicines for acute conditions or for short-term use (e.g. antibiotics). The list of medicines to be included in the new rule has been developed with the advice of the PBAC, taking into account factors such as the long-term nature of the therapy, its clinical use, dosage regimen and existing PBS restrictions on access.

Repeat prescriptions for all medicines, including those covered by the new 20 day rule, can still be dispensed immediately under the normal safety net arrangements with the authorisation of the prescribing doctor.

The new arrangement should encourage responsible use of PBS medicines by removing a financial incentive for patients to obtain more medicine than they need. The list of PBS medicines to be covered by the new 20 day supply arrangements and some frequently asked questions and answers can be viewed at .

Media contact: Kate Miranda 0417 425 227