About active ingredient prescribing

Active ingredient prescribing (AIP) is part of a wider government initiative to ensure the safe prescribing and dispensing of prescription medicines. Learn more about the program and why it is important.

About the initiative

The active ingredient prescribing (AIP) initiative supports the safe prescribing, dispensing, and appropriate use of medicines.

Under the AIP initiative, prescribers must include the active ingredient names when preparing prescriptions. This means most medicines will be prescribed by their active ingredient, not the brand name.

The AIP applies to most medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS), however there are some exceptions.


The AIP initiative aims to help people understand what medicines they are taking by:

  • increasing consumer health literacy
  • standardising descriptions of medicines
  • ensuring pharmacists and providers understand active ingredients 
  • promoting uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines
  • encouraging sustainable prescribing practices.
  • aligning Australian prescribing with international practices.

Why it is important

The same active ingredient can come in different forms, such as a tablet or a liquid. Different brands can also contain the same active ingredient – so it’s important to know how to recognise your medicine by its active ingredient to avoid putting yourself at risk of taking too much of your medicine.

Supporting people to recognise medicines by their active ingredient may also help prevent people inadvertently taking an active ingredient that: 

  • they are allergic to
  • may interact with another medicine. 

Active ingredient prescribing also encourages people to have discussions with their healthcare provider about generic medicines as an option, which may reduce their out-of-pocket costs. 

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