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Changes to prescribing which include listing active ingredients is set to become mandatory from 1 February.

To ensure prescribers understand the changes NPS MedicineWise have set up an “information hub”  on their website, which contains a number of resources and useful links, including a fact sheet for prescribers. The information also includes how to ensure prescribing software is up to date ahead of 1 February.

Active ingredient prescribing, as legislated in an amendment to the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Regulations 2017, legally requires prescribers of medicines listed on the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) and RPBS (Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits) to include names and details of the active ingredients in medical scripts.

According to the NPS, the prescribing changes will help support greater consistency in the way people see their medicines information and can lead to safer and more appropriate use of medicines. The changes will not affect clinical decision making or consumer choice, but will help consumers to understand more about the medicines they are taking.

Certain medical scripts will be exempt from the changes, including handwritten prescriptions; paper based medication charts in the residential aged care sector; medicinal items with four or more active ingredients; and other items determined by the Secretary for safety or practicality reasons, the Department of Health has stated.

Prescribers will also be expected by regulators to use up-to-date software that falls into line with the new requirements.

Pharmacists, will initially be exempt from the guidelines, with the Department of Health granting a six month grace period, ending on 31 July, to support pharmacies, and ensure consumers have continued access to PBS/RPBS subsidised medicines during the transition, according to NPS Medicine Wise.

Government health agencies have also adopted new processes or guidelines to augment the new regulatory approach, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and the My Health Record system all adjusting their practices and/or guidelines for the new rules.

The NPS MedicineWise active ingredient prescribing information hub, which also contains links to information for consumers, as well as specific information for pharmacists, can be found here.