Costs of Medicines

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidises medicines which are proven to work. This means that you can get them at a lower cost from your local pharmacy. The government decides which medicines will be subsidised. It also decides how many repeats you get and if your GP needs to get special permission to prescribe it.

Some medicines have restricted access. This could be because they are expensive. It could also be because they are at higher risk of causing problems. These medicines need to be written on an ‘authority script’. This means that the doctor gets authorisation to prescribe them. This then ensures the medication remains affordable.

Your palliative care medicines may be prescribed 'off license'. This means they are used differently and not exactly as the PBS directs. You will have to pay more for these medicines. This could be through your local pharmacy. You could also arrange an ongoing supply through the hospital associated with your palliative care service.

You may need to get a lot of prescriptions filled, and this can become costly. If you or your family use a lot of medicines, the PBS Safety Net helps with the costs. Once you have reached a certain limit, you can receive medicines more cheaply for the rest of the year. You may only need to take 4 to 6 long term medicines a month to be eligible. This can help with costs as palliative patients can take on average 5 medicines a month.

National Prescribing Service (NPS) Services Australia has information on:

Last updated 15 June 2020