PBS News

Extension to Image Based Prescription Special Arrangement

Page last updated: 22 December 2021

The Department of Health has extended the ‘image based prescription’ interim measure which allows the supply of PBS medicines from a digital image of a prescription.  Under this Special Arrangement, following a Medicare-subsidised telehealth consultation a prescriber is able to create a digital image of a legal paper prescription. With the patient’s permission, the prescriber may forward the copy of the prescription to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice by email, text message or fax.

The Special Arrangement commenced 26 March 2020. The cease date for the Special Arrangement was extended from 31 March 2021 to 30 September 2021 and again to 31 December 2021. Due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in some parts of Australia, the cease date has been additionally extended to 31 March 2022. Further information for prescribersdispensers is available.

State and Territory legislation will continue to apply. Further information can be found on the Health website. Medicines in Schedule 8 and Schedule 4 Appendix D in the Poisons Standard will continue to be excluded from this interim arrangement, unless specifically permitted by relevant state or territory rules.

The extension to the Special Arrangement continues to temporarily allow the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit without acknowledgement from the patient wherever it is impractical for them to sign the prescription (e.g. where the patient is concerned about transmission of COVID-19 by using the pharmacy pen). Pharmacists are still expected to require patients, or their agents, to acknowledge receipt of the pharmaceutical benefit where it is practical to do so; however, pharmacists are not required to sign on the patient’s behalf where it is not practical for the patient or the patient’s agent to sign (e.g. the pharmacist suppling medicine from an image based prescription).

An additional provision has also been included to waive the requirement for a signature for a pharmaceutical benefits prescription record where an approved supplier’s signature is normally required, but the record is not handwritten and it is not practicable for the patient to obtain the approved supplier’s signature.  Records of supplies of pharmaceutical benefits are necessary to substantiate patients’ eligibility to be issued a PBS safety net concession card or a pharmaceutical benefits entitlement card when their, or their family’s, total eligible out of pocket expenses for PBS prescriptions in the calendar year has equalled or exceeded the relevant statutory threshold amount.

For further information please visit the Department’s website or email eprescribing@health.gov.au