7 May 2020

Govt relaxes PBS requirements for some medications


Some PBS medications that usually have very strict eligibility criteria will be slightly more accessible during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Australian government has introduced temporary measures from 1 May to make the PBS restrictions slightly more flexible so that patients don’t put themselves at increased risk of infection by having to jump through various hurdles in order to gain access to medication.

“Some examples of situations that may result in the prescriber seeking the exemption might include a patient not being able to attend an outpatient clinic to perform a test, because the patient is required to quarantine, or where a prescriber considers it would not be appropriate for an immunocompromised patient to attend a clinic for a consultation and the information cannot be obtained in a telehealth consultation,” the government said.

Doctors can lodge a request with Services Australia for certain restrictions to be lifted in cases where patients might be at increased risk of COVID-19 by attending appointments face-to-face or where the appointments can’t be completed due to social distancing or isolation requirements.

“This measure will only apply to continuation prescriptions for patients who have previously received a script for the eligible PBS medicine, and all other PBS restriction criteria that are not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will still apply,” the government said.

“It is a legal requirement that the prescriber note the reasons for the proposed waiver and how it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Medications which are eligible for this relaxation in normal restrictions include: adalimumab, abatacept, baricitinib, benralizumab, etanercept, infliximab, tocilizumab, ustekinumab and tofacitinib.