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The Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits shows differences in price between some alternative brands of the same drug product.

Manufacturers can develop generic equivalents and apply to have them listed on the PBS. In doing this, manufacturers need to ensure that they comply with the relevant legislation applicable to patents. These brands are clinically equivalent and must undergo the same strict quality controls. Although these brands are designed to act on the body in exactly the same way, they are usually cheaper than the originator brands.

The Australian Government, through the PBS, subsidises up to the price of the lowest priced brand (except in those instances where the lowest priced brand has, as part of its price, a therapeutic group premium). This means that consumers may have to pay extra for more expensive brands (those with a brand premium). This extra amount does not count towards their PBS safety net threshold.

Brand substitution by pharmacists without reference to the prescriber is permitted for PBS prescriptions where:

  • the patient agrees to the substitution;
  • the brands are identified in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits as being interchangeable;
  • the prescriber has not indicated on the prescription form that substitution is not to occur; and
  • substitution is permitted under the relevant State or Territory legislation.

Prescription forms supplied by Services Australia contain a box to be ticked where brand substitution is not to take place.

Prescribers not using these prescription forms should endorse the prescription if brand substitution is not permitted. Where a stamp is used for this purpose, the prescriber will be required to initial the stamped statement.

For ease of prescribing and dispensing, and in the interests of your patients, the following list shows those PBS drugs that attract a brand premium and that can be substituted where permitted. They are listed alphabetically, by brand name, with the brand premium and benchmark brand(s) cited in the last column.

  • Legend
  • BBrand premium applies
  • aBrand equivalent a
  • DPDentist
  • MPMedical Practitioner
  • NPNurse Practitioner
Premium priced brand Form & strength Max qty
Max qty
No. of
Brand premium Benchmark priced brands
Feldene Bpiroxicam 10 mg capsule, 50a 1 50 3 $7.94 APO-Piroxicam
Mobilis 10
Feldene Bpiroxicam 20 mg capsule, 25a 1 25 3 $7.92 APO-Piroxicam
Mobilis 20
Feldene-D Bpiroxicam 20 mg dispersible tablet, 25a 1 25 3 $7.92 Mobilis D-20
Flagyl Bmetronidazole 200 mg tablet, 21a 1 21 1 $1.86 Metrogyl 200
Metronide 200
Flagyl Bmetronidazole 400 mg tablet, 21a 1 21 1 $1.86 Metrogyl 400
Metronide 400
Flixotide Bfluticasone propionate 250 microgram/actuation inhalation, 120 actuationsa 1 1 1 $3.00 Axotide
Fluticasone Cipla Inhaler
Flixotide Bfluticasone propionate 125 microgram/actuation inhalation, 120 actuationsa 1 1 5 $3.00 Axotide
Fluticasone Cipla Inhaler
Fosamax Plus Balendronate 70 mg + colecalciferol 70 microgram (2800 units) tablet, 4a 1 4 5 $4.00 ALENDRONATE PLUS D3 70mg/70ug APOTEX
Alendronate Plus D3 Sandoz
Alendronate plus D3-DRLA
Fosamax Plus 70 mg/140 mcg Balendronate 70 mg + colecalciferol 140 microgram (5600 units) tablet, 4a 1 4 5 $4.00 ALENDRONATE PLUS D3 70mg/140ug APOTEX
Alendronate Plus D3 Sandoz
Alendronate plus D3-DRLA