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Medicines in Australia

There are 3 types of medicines in Australia:

Australians can access medicines that treat less serious conditions and include lower risk ingredients, such as some complementary medicines, from supermarkets, health food shops or pharmacies.

For medicines that carry a higher risk, such as over-the-counter medicines and prescription medicines, you need to first speak with a pharmacist or get a prescription from a doctor.

It’s important that you understand the medicines you take, including:

Medicines are an important part of how we prevent and treat conditions and diseases, so they need to be safe and effective for everyone.

Poisons Information Centre

Call this number if you think someone has taken an overdose, made an error with medicine or been poisoned. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in Australia.

What we’re doing about medicines

We regulate medicines through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). We:

  • assess medicines for safety and quality
  • make sure medicines do what they say they will do
  • publish information about approved products in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods
  • monitor medicines after they have been approved to make sure they continue to meet safety and quality standards, and do what they say they will do
  • take action if there is an issue with a medicine – such as recall a medicine, or suspend or remove it from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods

We also subsidise the cost of many prescription medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Life Saving Drugs Program. This means Australians can get the more of medicines they need at a more affordable price.

You can view the medicines available under the PBS in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits. We regularly update the schedule with new listings and the latest changes.