60-day prescriptions – What we know so far

From the 1st of September 2023, millions of Australians who live with an ongoing, chronic condition but are stable on their medication, will soon be able to receive twice the supply of their medications for the cost of a single prescription.

This schema will be able to help you save money and time by receiving a 60-day supply, instead of 30-day supply so you will only have to go every 2 months instead of every month.

By halving our trips to the pharmacy and doctor’s appointments for script renewals, this schema will make it easier for both patients and doctors.

Eventually, this scheme will apply to more than 300 common medicines listed on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).

There will be three stages of implementation over the course of 12 months. The first stage of implementation includes 92 medicines for a wide range of conditions, including some for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, gout, osteoporosis and other inflammatory types of arthritis.

Clinical experts from the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended introducing 60-day prescriptions for patients with ongoing health conditions who are stable on their current treatment.

The full list of PBS medicines recommended by PBAC as suitable can be found here: Increased-Dispensing-Quantities-List-of-Medicines.pdf (pbs.gov.au)

Some of the first medications that used for the many different types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions* which will be eligible for 60-day dispensing include the following:

  • Alendronate
  • allopurinol
  • Ciclosporin
  • Leflunomide
  • Febuxostat
  • Methotrexate
  • Mycophenolate
  • Baclofen
  • Prednisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Probenecid
  • Raloxifen
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Calcitriol

If you medication isn’t on this list you can double check the full list or ask your doctor.

If you have concession card, or a healthcare card, you are paying $7.30 every time you go to the pharmacy, and that price won’t change. If you don’t have a concession card, you will pay double for what you normally pay as it will be double the supply unless it goes over the medicare threshold of $30 for the 60 day supply. It is expected to help people with a Medicare card save up to $180 every year and concession card holders could save up to $43.80 for each medication.

This scheme intends to make access to the GP a lot easier, help with fewer visits to the pharmacy and help ease the rising costs of living pressures.

The decision to write a script with two months’ worth of medicine will be determined by the GP or prescriber, based on their professional clinical judgement. The option to prescribe a one month supply remains.

Based on a systematic review, that explored the impacts of issuing longer prescriptions by King et al., (2018) there are a few concerns about medication shortages, medication waste, confusion for some patients who take multiple medications for different health reasons but also many benefits implied, a lot of the results were not always statistically significant or they were based on very low quality evidence . There are also many concerns amongst pharmacists regarding the unintended consequences involving dispensing challenges, risks of overdose and accidental poisonings, hoarding of medications, increased medication wastage, patient safety and financial concerns. If you have questions or concerns, ensure you speak with your doctor or main healthcare provider.

For more information, you can read all about the new policy on the following websites and in the media releases below:

60-day prescriptions of PBS medicines | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

60 Day Scripts – Brought to you by Consumers Health Forum

Cheaper medicines from 60-day dispensing | Health Portfolio Ministers and Aged Care

Cheaper medicines to ease cost of living | Health Portfolio Ministers and Aged Care

Mary Zagotsis
Health Educator
Arthritis NSW

August 2023