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Update to Continued Dispensing Arrangements – Emergency Measures

Page last updated: 22 December 2023

From 22 December 2023 and to continue to 1 March 2024, a Continued Dispensing Emergency Measure has been put in place to temporarily support patients affected by the flooding disaster in Far North Queensland to continue to access their PBS subsidised medicines.

For a limited period of time, this Emergency Measure will provide access to a wider range of PBS medicines than under the normal Continued Dispensing arrangements, covering most medicines on the General Schedule of the PBS until 1 March 2024 while this measure is in place. For further information, please see the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Continued Dispensing arrangements webpage.

The arrangements allow for a supply of one script worth of certain medicines by the approved pharmacist without a prescription, where there is an immediate need for the medicine, but where the prescriber is unable to be contacted and/or is unable to provide an electronic PBS prescription or owing prescription.

The patient’s therapy must be considered stable and any patient who has received a PBS medicine under these emergency arrangements will not be eligible for another supply under this temporary arrangement as it is limited to once in a twelve-month period.

Due to the rapid nature of the response, pharmacists may need to take additional steps when processing claims for the new items included in expanded Continued Dispensing arrangements.

While system updates to PBS Online have been implemented by Services Australia at very short notice to allow for the payment of claims, third-party dispensing software used by pharmacies to claim payment for PBS supplies may not have received corresponding updates to enable the contemporaneous lodgement of claims in respect of items on the expanded list of medicines. In these circumstances, pharmacies may submit their Continued Dispensing claims that are not covered under existing (ongoing Continued Dispensing) arrangements claims instead at the next available opportunity, which is expected to be on or before 1 February 2024.

Pharmacies may wish to contact their software providers to enquire about the timeframes applying to these software updates.

In all cases however, pharmacies are advised to record all information normally required for a PBS Continued Dispensing claim. For items covered under these emergency Continued Dispensing arrangements that require authority approval from Services Australia, the emergency authority approval number A2022CD should be used. For all claiming enquiries, please contact the PBS General Line via telephone number 13 22 90.