Electronic prescribing update: active ingredient prescribing from 1 February 2021

  22 January 2021  NWMPHN Primary Health Care Improvement Team   

From 1 February 2021, all new Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (RPBS) prescriptions (noting a small number of exclusions) must include active (generic) ingredients. Prescribing software will automatically include active ingredients on prescriptions.

Prescribers can still include a brand name after active ingredient on prescriptions if clinically necessary and may still disallow brand substitution where required. Consumers will also still be able to choose the brand they want when they get their medicines from their pharmacy.

Active ingredient information will also now appear on prescriptions, medicines packaging, pharmacy dispensing labels and in My Health Record shared summaries.

Prescribing software developers are now progressing active ingredient prescribing software updates in general practice. These software updates will include electronic prescribing functionality. This means electronic prescribing capability is available nationally in most general practice clinical software from 1 January 2021.

Benefits of active ingredient prescribing

  • Less confusion for consumers leading to less risk of accidentally taking multiple doses of the same medicines with different names.
  • Consumers will be better informed about the medicines they are taking.
  • Increased uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines, leading to the reduction of out-of-pocket expenses for the consumer.

 Which prescriptions are excluded?  

  • handwritten prescriptions
  • paper-based medication charts in the residential aged care sector
  • medicinal items with four or more active ingredients
  • other items excluded for safety or practicality reasons, for example: vaccines, ocular lubricants.

View a full list of excluded medical items.

Can I set my prescribing software to automatically include a brand?

No. The legislation prevents prescribing software from automatically including brand names on prescriptions. Prescribers should determine whether a brand name is clinically necessary for each prescription.

What do I need to do?

Update your prescribing software before 1 February 2021 to ensure you are using a version that supports active ingredient prescribing. This capability has been built into your clinical information system, simply contact your software provider directly to find out about how to upgrade your software to the latest version that has active ingredient prescribing capability.

More information

HealthPathways Melbourne HealthPathways Melbourne

Visit the Electronic Prescribing pathway on HealthPathways Melbourne for more information.