How the 60-day prescription changes may affect you

Wondering how the latest changes to prescription rules might shake up your healthcare routine? Here’s everything you need to know.

You may have heard about the new 60-day prescription changes for some common medicines.

So what are the changes and what do they mean for you?

What exactly are the prescription changes?

Under the new system, which began on September 1, eligible Australians living with a chronic health condition will be able to buy 60 days’ supply of selected Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines in a single visit to the pharmacy, Chemist Warehouse director Mario Tascone says.

The changes are happening in three stages over 12 months, and when complete will apply to more than 300 medicines, Mario says.

Pharmacist Leah Bartolotta says being able to buy 60 days’ worth of medicine instead of 30 days’ worth means patients won’t have to visit the doctor or pharmacy as often to renew their script.

“The changes will help people with limited mobility or people living in remote locations, who will save time and see their travel costs reduced,” Leah says.

Mario says the changes will also help free up much-needed GP bookings.

What the prescription changes may mean for you

Mario says the changes mean significant savings for concession card holders or pensioners, as they may now be eligible to receive twice the medication for the cost of a single prescription.

“For example if you’re a concession card holder and you currently pay $6.30 at Chemist Warehouse for your prescriptions, because we discount the prescriptions by $1, under the changes, you’ll be able to get two months’ supply of that medication for the same price of $6.30,” Mario says.

You may also need fewer trips to the GP for a prescription and will need fewer visits to the pharmacy to have your medicine dispensed.

But Mario says not everyone will benefit.

“It’s not a two-for-one offer in every case, particularly for general patients,” he says.

He explains there are a few important points to keep in mind:

  • You will need to get a new prescription from the doctor, and it’s up to your GP whether they will supply you with a 60-day prescription. 
  • Not all medicines are eligible for 60-day dispensing (the full list of eligible medications will be released over the next 12 months). 
  • While some people may be paying less, it’s important to note they may no longer reach their PBS safety net, which should be taken into consideration.
  • General patients at Chemist Warehouse whose medicine is already priced below the maximum co-payment of $29 will pay more than the single price if they choose to get 60 days dispensed. However the maximum they will pay for a 60-day supply will never be greater than $29, unless their medication has a brand price premium.
  • Some patients may end up paying more with a 60-day script if the medicine has a brand price premium.

How do you qualify for the prescription changes?

Patients must be:

  • living with an ongoing health condition
  • assessed by their prescriber to be stable on their current medicine/medicines
  • have discussed with their GP and obtained a new prescription for a 60-day quantity of medicine per dispensing.
  • To be eligible for a prescription that provides medicine for 60 days your medication also needs to be on the approved list.

Medicines included in the prescription changes

Almost 100 common medicines listed on the PBS have the option of a 60-day prescription.

Under the first stage of the changes, nearly 100 common medicines listed on the PBS now have the option of a 60-day prescription.

This first stage supports patients stable on their current treatment and living with ongoing health conditions including:

How to store your medicines

Mario says it is important to consider health and safety when storing two months of medicine at home.

“Keep your medicines in a cool, dry place because you are going to hold them for a lot longer than you normally do,” he says.

“Also, from a safety point of view, keep medicine well away from children, in a cabinet that’s not easily accessible by little ones.”

Read more on how to support your health:

Written by Bianca Carmona.