Active Ingredient Prescribing grace period ends 31 July

Morgan Liotta

29/07/2021 2:45:54 PM

GPs and practices are being reminded to update their prescribing software to ensure legislative requirements are met.

Pharmacist discussing script with patient
To ensure valid prescriptions are generated, prescribing software should be up to date to support Active Ingredient Prescribing.

As of 1 August 2021, all newly generated Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation PBS (RPBS) prescriptions must meet Active Ingredient Prescribing legislative requirements.
To ensure prescriptions remain valid, practice prescribing software should be updated to the latest version that supports Active Ingredient Prescribing.
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has also recently issued a new national standard for labelling dispensed medicines to provide guidance on the format and content of information on dispensed medicine labels.

The standard outlines the importance of labels for dispensed medicines in communicating information to patients to ensure safe and effective medicine use, which includes information on Active Ingredient Prescribing.
The new labelling requirements are part of a Federal Government initiative to ensure consistent and standardised medicines information to support safe and appropriate use of medicines and improve health literacy.
Since 1 February 2021, PBS and RPBS prescriptions have been required to include medicine’s active ingredient name(s), with some exceptions.
However, when Active Ingredient Prescribing first came into force, GPs expressed some concerns that patients and pharmacists may be disadvantaged if prescribers had not updated their software to the latest version for it to be a legal prescription.
‘I have heard some concerns about some users updating software and having problems with the latest versions of the software,’ Dr Rob Hosking, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management, told newsGP at the time.
‘There will be confusion and concern amongst patients [initially] when the name of the medication comes out differently on their prescription … [but] active ingredient prescribing is a way of making sure that everybody’s on the same page, because we’re all prescribing the same chemical.’
To provide patients continued access to PBS- and RPBS-subsidised medicines during the transition to Active Ingredient Prescribing, the Department of Health agreed to provide a six-month ‘grace period’ for pharmacy, due to end 31 July.
During this grace period, if a pharmacy received a prescription which did not meet Active Ingredient Prescribing requirements, the pharmacist was asked to contact the prescriber and request the prescription be re-issued. If the prescriber was unable to issue a compliant prescription for any reason, the pharmacy could supply and claim for the medicine as normal under the PBS or RPBS.

But from 1 August, new PBS and RPBS prescriptions that do not meet Active Ingredient Prescribing requirements will not be able to be dispensed as PBS/RPBS prescriptions. Instead, they will need to be reissued in alignment with the new requirements or dispensed as private prescriptions – incurring out-of-pocket costs to patients.
Prescriptions and repeats prescribed prior to 1 August which do not meet Active Ingredient Prescribing requirements are still eligible for PBS/RPBS subsidy.
After printing prescriptions, GPs should ensure all details are accurate and PBS/RPBS compliant, and all necessary instructions and information is available for pharmacists.
GPs can also guide patients in understanding the change to their prescriptions and the active ingredients in their medicines.
The RACGP has an FAQ web page for GP prescribers on Active Ingredient Prescribing.
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