Continued Dispensing of PBS Medicines in Defined Circumstances (Continued Dispensing) initiative
The Continued Dispensing initiative will allow pharmacists to supply eligible PBS medicines to a customer when there is an immediate need for the medicine, but it is not practical for the customer to get a prescription.
This initiative will commence progressively from 1 September 2013, subject to state and territory enabling legislation.
Before pharmacists can provide eligible PBS medicines under this initiative, they need to confirm the latest status of State based enabling legislation with their State health authority. Further information can be found at the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) website.
Continued Dispensing supply will be limited to two therapeutic categories:
- Oral Hormonal Contraceptives for systemic use, and
- Lipid Modifying Agents (cholesterol lowering medicines), specifically the HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (‘statins’) as listed in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits.
Pharmacists will be able to supply medicine under this initiative when:
- the medicine requested is listed in the relevant legislation as eligible for supply under continued dispensing
- there is an immediate need for the medicine and the customer can’t get to a prescriber
- the medicine has been prescribed before
- the customer’s therapy is stable
- there has been prior clinical review by the prescriber that supports continuation of the medicine
- there is an ongoing need for the medicine, and
- the medicine is safe and appropriate for the customer.
In some States, current arrangements let pharmacists supply a limited quantity of Schedule 4 medicines without a prescription in urgent or emergency situations. This initiative will complement these current provisions.
Pharmacies should ensure their pharmacy dispensing software functionality for continued dispensing supply is enabled to supply eligible items.
Pharmacists will need to comply with the 'Guidelines for the Continued Dispensing of eligible prescribed medicines by pharmacists'. The guidelines have been developed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and these will be distributed to all registered pharmacists and to Section 90 community pharmacies.
Key components of the guidelines:
- Continued dispensing will not replace existing emergency supply arrangements, but will complement them. Therefore, pharmacists will have the following four options when a customer asks for medicine without a prescription:
- supply the medicine once they receive confirmation from the prescriber. The prescriber can confirm by phone or other means, with a written prescription to follow
- provide an emergency supply of the medicine (usually 3 days with no need for a follow-up prescription)
- provide the medicine under continued dispensing, a follow-up prescription isn’t needed, or
- don’t supply the medicine.
- Continued dispensing can only be used once in a 12-month period per customer and per medicine.
- Prescribing medicine will continue to be the responsibility of the patient’s doctor or alternative authorised prescriber.
- The pharmacist must tell the most recent prescriber in writing, within 24 hours, that the medicine has been supplied.
- Pharmacies must have internal policies and procedures that outline record keeping requirements for supplying medicines under this initiative.
Unlike other 5CPA programs, pharmacies don’t need to register for these new arrangements.
This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health as part of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement between the Australian Government and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
Further information is available at the 5CPA website.
Last updated: 27 September, 2013