PBS News

Advice for approved pharmacists supplying PBS medicines to patients in areas affected by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and subsequent flooding – March 2017 - Updated 4 April 2017

Page last updated: 5 April 2017

Please note: The information on this page is no longer current and is only included here for historical reference.

Current information is maintained on the 'PBS Arrangements to Support Australians Affected by Natural Disasters and Emergencies' Fact Sheet.

Pharmacists should note that the following arrangements apply in areas that have been affected by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and subsequent flooding. These arrangements have immediate effect and apply until at least 30 April 2017.

NOTE: Pharmacists must ensure that they continue to comply with relevant state requirements applicable to the provision of pharmaceuticals.

Patient Entitlement

If patients do not have their Medicare, DVA or Centrelink card the pharmacist should ring the PBS Inquiry line 132 290 (press option 1), for assistance with a patient’s Medicare or concessional details.

Dispensing medicines under the 3 day emergency supply rule without a prescription

In certain circumstances, a patient can receive a 3 day supply of medication without a prescription, in accordance with state emergency supply provisions.

A pharmacist may dispense using the ‘owing prescription’ provision

The pharmacist can confirm the patient’s current medication details with the prescriber, or a prescriber may direct a pharmacist to supply a medicine to a patient in an emergency situation.  Patients may be issued the amount authorised by the prescriber.  The prescriber is required to forward a paper prescription to the pharmacy to cover the emergency supply as soon as practicable, in accordance with state law.

Continued Dispensing

For patients requiring urgent supply of oral contraceptives or cholesterol lowering medicines (statins), pharmacists may dispense a single PBS quantity under Continued Dispensing arrangements.  Supply of medicines under these circumstances must be consistent with the Guidelines for the Continued Dispensing of eligible prescribed medicines by pharmacists.  Information about Continued Dispensing is available from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia website.

Medicines subject to the 4/20 day PBS rule

In cases where the patient may have lost medication due to Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and subsequent flooding, the pharmacist may provide a subsequent supply, but must endorse the prescription with the words 'immediate supply necessary' and sign the PBS prescription.

PBS Authority line 1800 888 333 (PBS) 1800 552 580 (RPBS)

If a prescriber contacts the PBS Authority line for a patient who has lost their medication and the related approved authority prescription/repeats, the Department of Human Services can approve a new Authority inside normal time frames.

Emergency relocation of a pharmacy

Pharmacists seeking to temporarily relocate their approved pharmacy due to damage from Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and subsequent flooding should send an email to acpamail@health.gov.au, quoting the PBS approval number, address of the temporary premises and expected timeframe for return to the approved premises. The email should be sent within 14 days of commencing at the temporary premises.  For further information pharmacists can phone the Department of Health on (02) 6289 2425 Monday to Friday.  The Department of Health will advise wholesaler distributors of the temporary approval to supply PBS medicines at alternative premises to facilitate delivery of PBS medicines to the temporary address.  NB: The PBS pharmacy approval number will not change for these temporary relocations.  Pharmacists are also required to continue to comply with State legislation with regards to the temporary premises they will be using.

Medicine distribution arrangements

The Department of Health is monitoring PBS supply arrangements in areas affected by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and subsequent flooding to ensure that patient access to essential medicines can continue during this emergency.

Telecommunications impact on PBS online

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and subsequent flooding may affect telecommunications capacity in some areas.  Approved pharmacists in these areas may not have real-time connection to the Department for prescription verification and entitlement checking.  Any service interruption will not affect your PBS claim as your dispensing software will store all claimed items until the telecommunications and connection with the Department through PBS Online are restored and validation can occur.

Advice for prescribing authority required PBS medicines

Where you cannot access authority to prescribe for reasons relating to Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and subsequent flooding:

If a prescriber is unable to contact the DHS authorities line to obtain an authority to prescribe, the use of DHS emergency management provisions currently in place for DHS system outages will apply.

The prescription needs to include an authority prescription number. If an authority prescription is not available, the Department of Human Services will accept a prescription with the authority prescription number 12345671 included.  The emergency provisions do not allow for increased quantities or increased repeats above the scheduled amount.  The emergency authority provisions are available for authority required items and authority required streamlined items.

The emergency authority provisions are available to prescribers from 30 March 2017 until service access is restored in the areas impacted by natural disaster associated with Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and areas impacted by subsequent flooding.

Prescriptions must be endorsed with emergency messaging stating: PBS emergency authorised TC Debbie

Advice for pharmacists

With effect from 30 March 2017, the pharmacist may be required to contact the prescriber to ensure the prescription is endorsed appropriately with emergency messaging.  Only if your dispensing system prompts for an authority approval number, key P9999RX to dispense the authority prescription.

Claiming - Missing prescriptions/no paperwork

If your pharmacy has lost or damaged prescriptions due to Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and subsequent flooding you should complete a Statutory Declaration and keep it with your records for compliance purposes.  The Statutory Declaration should include a statement about loss of prescriptions as a result of the natural disaster/emergency, and an undertaking that an insurance claim has not been made.

Pharmacists can download a Statutory Declaration form or purchase one from any post office or newsagent.

Issued by the Pharmaceutical Access Branch

Department of Health

2017 v1.2