Section 1 — Explanatory Notes

Introduction

These Explanatory Notes are provided to help PBS prescribers and pharmacists work within the Australian Government's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The PBS is a system of subsidising the cost of most prescription medicines. The subsidies are available to all Australian residents and eligible foreign visitors, i.e., people from countries which have Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia. These countries are the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Malta, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Belgium and Slovenia.

The aim of the PBS, which has been in operation since 1948, is to provide reliable and affordable access to a wide range of necessary medicines.

The Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits referred to throughout as the 'Schedule' – lists all the medicinal products available under the PBS, and explains the uses for which they can be subsidised.

The Schedule is produced monthly by the Australian Department of Health (effective on the first day of each month).

It is vital therefore that PBS prescribers and pharmacists remain up to date with information on which medicines are included in or excluded from the Schedule, which PBS prescribers may prescribe certain medicines, whether restrictions apply to the medicines, and how much patients should pay.

Queries relating to the PBS can be made to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Branch of the Department of Human Services (telephone 132 290 open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Queries relating to the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) can be made to the State offices of the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) (telephone 1800 552 580).