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Changes to preventer prescriptions

Changes to the PBS restrictions of ICS/LABA combination preventer medications came into effect on 1 August 2018. These medicines include Symbicort, Seretide, Flutiform and Breo inhalers for people with asthma.

Restriction level on all ICS/LABA medications have changed from Restricted Benefit to Authority Required (streamlined).

What does this mean for prescribers?

Prescribers must write or print the prescription on an authority prescription form and include the four-digit streamlined authority code on the prescription. This is required for a PBS prescription to be valid for PBS dispensing at the pharmacy.

If you use a prescribing software at your practice you must update the software.

Streamlined authority codes are included in prescribing software; listed in the PBS schedule (available on the PBS website); and by searching for ‘streamlined authorities’ on the PBS website:

This has not altered the number of repeats available or the cost of asthma medication. If the prescriber does not indicate the authority code on the right prescription the patient will have to pay full price for the medicine at the pharmacy.

What does this mean for pharmacists?

Pharmacists must ensure that the prescription on an authority prescription form includes the four-digit streamlined authority code. This enables pharmacists to supply the item as a PBS benefit. Pharmacists must include the four-digit streamlined authority code on the claim for the PBS dispensing.

If the prescription is not complete, with authority code on the required prescription document, the pharmacist will be unable to provide the medicine at a subsidised price and the patient will have to pay full price.

What does this mean for patients?

Will the cost of my medication change?

Only the restriction level of this medication has been changed. This will not affect the cost of the medication on the PBS.

The cost of the medication will only be affected if your prescriber does not write the script on an authority prescription form and include the four-digit streamlined authority code, as per the changes. In this case, the medication will not be eligible for PBS benefit and you will be charged full price.

Can I still get repeat prescriptions?

Only the restriction level of this medication has been changed, this does not affect the number of repeats the medication is eligible for.

My prescription was written before 1 August 2018, can I still use it?

PBS prescriptions are valid for 12 months from the date written. If your prescription was written before 1 August 2018 when changes came into effect, you can still get your prescription as per your original script and it will be subsidised by the PBS.

My prescription was written after 1 August 2018 and was not written on an authority prescription form with the four-digit code, what do I do?

PBS prescriptions written for ICS/LABA medications after 1 August 2018 must be written on an authority prescription form and include a four-digit streamlined authority code written by your prescriber. Without this code the pharmacist cannot supply the medication as a PBS benefit. This means you will be required to pay full price for the medication or contact your prescriber to have the prescription updated to the correct form and include the authority prescription code.

Most prescribers use a computer software to generate prescriptions. These must be updated on the 1st of every month to reflect PBS updates. If your prescriber has not updated their software, they will not be able to write ICS/LABA scripts on the correct form. Prescribers cannot print a computer-generated form to write on. This means prescribers must update their software to write the correct script or use authority required paper forms (if they still have access to these). 

If you are at the pharmacy and have the incorrect form, you may consider calling your prescriber or have the pharmacist call to ask for the prescription to be updated correctly and faxed through. Please be aware this may not be possible as prescribers may not be able to update software in the middle of a work day.

If you have an appointment with your prescriber for a new script, ensure your prescriber provides you with a valid script, as described above.

Further information If you require further information, please contact the general PBS telephone service on 1800 020 613 or the PBS authority script telephone service on 1800 888 333.

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