Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, or PBS, helps keep medicines affordable.
The Australian Government’s subsidy of PBS medicines reduces their cost on average by 89%. It applies to over 5000 clinically-proven products and covers a broad range of conditions.
By reducing the costs of medicines, the PBS allows Australians with a Medicare card to treat their illness or condition. This helps treat serious and chronic conditions, prevent serious conditions from developing, reduces the need for doctor visits and keeps people out of hospital.
What is covered?
There are more than 5,000 clinically-proven products covered by the PBS.
The PBS lists brand name, generic, biologic and biosimilar medicines. All these products are shown to be safe and effective before being sold in Australia and are covered by the PBS on the advice of medical experts. Read more about generic and brand name medicines and biosimilar medicines.
For a full list of the medicines available and to find out what you would expect to pay, visit the PBS A-Z Medicine Listing page.
How does it work?
When you present your PBS prescription to your pharmacist, with your Medicare card, you will normally pay a co-payment of $40.30 for most PBS medicines or $6.50 if you have a concession card. The Australian Government pays the remaining cost of the medicine. You pay even less once you have reached the PBS Safety Net.
To get a cheaper medicine when filling your PBS prescription, make sure you show your concession card, health care card, Department of Veterans’ Affairs card or your PBS Safety Net card, if you have one.
As a patient, you may be able to access a ‘$1 discount’ off your co-payment. Your pharmacist may choose to offer a discount on the co-payment for each PBS supply by up to a maximum of $1.00.
Visit the PBS website eligibility page and the NPS MedicineWise: keeping your medicines' costs down page for more information.
What is the safety net?
The PBS Safety Net protects patients and their families requiring a larger number of PBS medicines. Once the amount of money you have spent on your PBS-approved medicines reaches the Safety Net Threshold, the cost of any future prescriptions in that calendar year will be reduced even further.
Talk to your pharmacist about keeping a record of your PBS medicines so that you know when you have reached the PBS Safety Net threshold. Your pharmacist can also provide you with a Prescription Record Form to help track your PBS medicines.
If you would like more information please visit the PBS Safety Net Scheme.
Safe use of medicines
Always use your medicines as prescribed by your health care provider and read the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet.
Taking out-of-date medicines, using the incorrect dosage or sharing your prescribed medicines with other people can cause significant harm and in some cases death.
Medicines can lose their effectiveness over time or their chemical composition can change and they can become dangerous. You should never use medicines that are past their use-by-date and you should never stockpile medicines. Find out more about expired medicines.
Always dispose of your unused or out-of-date medicines safely. The easiest way to do this is to take them to your local pharmacy where they can be safely disposed of for free. Read more about the National Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines.
It is especially important that elderly or young patients as well as care-givers of these patients manage their medicines regime carefully.
Managing your medicines
Community pharmacies offer support to help you better manage your PBS medicines to get the safest and best results.
This support includes pharmacy programs such as Dose Administration Aids to help you remember when to take your medicine, and MedsChecks and Diabetes MedsChecks to help understand your medicines and assist in the safe use of medicines.
Talk to your community pharmacist or visit Pharmacy Programs Administrator for more information about programs that can assist you.
The PBS campaign will help Australians understand how the PBS helps keep medicines affordable and the importance of using medicines as directed.
Launched on Thursday, 28 March 2019, the campaign features across television, radio, print and digital channels.
Check out the campaign materials