Prescribers To List Active Ingredients in Medicines

Active ingredient prescribing becomes mandatory on 1 February 2021.

The Australian Government announced the change and a transition period in the 2018-19 Budget. At the same time, it announced the development and implementation of electronic prescribing.

Active ingredient prescribing uses standardised international non-proprietary names for medicines. It requires approved prescribers to include active ingredient names on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Benefit PBS (RBPBS) prescriptions.

Under the change, prescribers can continue to choose a specific brand of medicine for their patients. They may include a brand name on the prescription wherever they believe it is necessary for the treatment of their patient.

Exempt from the requirement are:

  • Handwritten prescriptions
  • Paper-based medication charts in residential aged care facilities
  • Medicinal items with four or more active ingredients.

Prescribers’ clinical information software (CIS) may need updating to deal with the change. Anyone with any questions about CIS should speak to their software provider.

Pharmacist at Coffs Harbour’s Galambila Aboriginal Medical Service, Chris Braithwaite, supports the change ‘due to its potential to improve safe and quality use of medicines’.

“From a clinician’s point of view, it will ensure we are able to more clearly and effectively communicate across transitions of care to prevent medication misadventure,” Mr Braithwaite said.

“From a patient perspective, there may be a transition phase in some cases, getting used to the change, but ultimately it should empower patients to better understand their medicines.

“Brand names often cause confusion and transitioning to the one constant on the box/prescription, being the active ingredient, will reduce the potential for error and confusion.

“It will also provide a great opportunity for patients and pharmacists to have more conversations about safe use of their medications.”

Follow the links below for more information on active ingredient prescribing and how it may affect you.

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