The below article is a statement from the Department of Health.

An update on active ingredient prescribing

From 1 February 2021, all Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation PBS (RPBS) prescriptions (noting a small number of exclusions) must include active ingredient name(s). These requirements only apply to computer generated prescriptions, and prescriptions for medicines with up to 3 active ingredients. Handwritten prescriptions are excluded.

Preserving prescribers’ clinical decision making autonomy and choice of medicine has been a major consideration throughout the development of the implementation strategy for Active Ingredient Prescribing. Prescribers can still choose a specific brand of medicine for their patient, and can include a brand name on the prescription wherever clinically necessary for the treatment of their patient. Where a brand name is included on a prescription, the active ingredient name(s) will appear first.

The Department of Health has been working closely with the clinical software industry to ensure that all prescribing software incorporates necessary changes to automate the Active Ingredient Prescribing process for prescribers. A new version of your software which meets these requirements should now be available.

The Department of Health and Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) have also worked closely with industry to develop a range of clinical support materials to support prescribers to adopt Active Ingredient Prescribing, which are available on the ACSQHC website via:

What do prescribers need to do? 


  • Update prescribing software before 1 February 2021, to ensure you are using a version which supports Active Ingredient Prescribing.
  • Capability has been built into your clinical information system. Contact your software provider directly to find out about how to upgrade your software to the latest version that has Active Ingredient Prescribing capability.
  • Subscribe to your software provider newsletters and correspondence.
  • Stay up to date with communication from clinical peak organisations.

Where can prescribers get more information? 

Detailed information, including fact sheets and prescriber FAQ pages are available:

Questions should be addressed to [email protected]
Australian Government Department of Health
GPO Box 9848 | Canberra ACT 2601