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Prescription Shopping Program

About prescription shopping

Prescription shopping is when patients unknowingly or deliberately obtain more medicines than is medically needed.  This is often done by visiting many doctors, without telling them about their other consultations. 

About the Prescription Shopping Program

The Prescription Shopping Program (PSP) helps to protect the integrity of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) by identifying and reducing the number of patients obtaining PBS subsidised medicine in excess of their medical need. Excessive use of PBS medicines is a health risk as well as a burden to the taxpayer who subsidises both the medicine and the consultation.

There are two key elements to the PSP:

  • The Prescription Shopping Information Service (PSIS), is available to registered prescribers 24 hours a day seven days a week. It provides information on the prescription history of people identified by the program and is accurate up to the last 24 hours.
  • The alert service – a service provided by the Prescription Shopping Program where we may send you a letter and a PBS Patient Summary Report notifying you if you have prescribed to a patient of concern. The patient is notified when PBS medicine may have been supplied in excess of medical need.

Both the PSIS and the alert service operate as information services for health professionals to assist them in their prescribing decisions.

Prescription Shopping Information Service

The PSIS provides information about patients who have met the PSP criteria. You can only receive information about a patient you are consulting and you do not need your patient’s consent to call the PSIS if there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that the patient may be getting more medicine than they medically need.

If you suspect a patient of getting more medicine than they need, you can call the PSIS 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 631 181*.

The PSIS can:

  • tell you if the patient has been identified under the PSP
  • tell you the number of prescribers who have prescribed, and
  • provide information on the amount and type of PBS medicine recently supplied to that patient.

Each time you contact the PSIS, you will need to provide your:

  • prescriber number
  • full name
  • answer to a personal validation question
  • patient's Medicare number
  • patient's date of birth
  • patient's full name.

If you are not already registered for the PSIS, call us on 1800 631 181*, or complete and sign the Prescription Shopping Information Service registration (2441) [PDF, 116Kb]PDF reader required and fax it to 07 3004 5218. You will receive confirmation of your registration.

PBS Patient Summary Report

If your patient has been identified by the PSP, you can ask for a PBS Patient Summary Report which includes:

  • the period the patient was identified
  • the patient’s prescribing history
  • the number of prescribers who have prescribed to the patient
  • the patient’s usage of PBS medicines, including the total PBS medicine prescribed and the pack size.

You can get a PBS Patient Summary Report in a number of different ways:  

  • phone - a brief overview of the PBS Patient Summary Report can be given while you are on the phone
  • online through the Medicare website using your Individual PKI Certificate - which can be accessed within minutes of making the phone call to the Information Service and while your patient is still with you
  • mail, and
  • fax.

To view the PBS Patient Summary Report online you will need an Individual Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to access the secure Health Professional Online Service (HPOS) area.

For more information about HPOS and to register for PKI go to HPOS.

The following is an example of the PBS Patient Summary Report that can be made available to prescribers for a patient who has met the program criteria.

For more information

*Call charges apply from mobile phones only.

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Last updated: 21 October, 2013