When active ingredient prescribing applies

Active ingredient prescribing (AIP) is mandatory for most prescription medications listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) and the Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (RPBS).

When active ingredient prescribing applies

The general principles of best practice prescribing, including prescribing by active ingredient, apply to all prescriptions. AIP is only a legal requirement for medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) and the Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (RPBS).

When writing PBS or RPBS prescriptions, prescribers must apply the AIP requirements except when they are using:

  • handwritten prescriptions
  • paper-based medication charts in residential aged care facilities
  • medicinal items with 4 or more active ingredients
  • other items excluded for safety or practicality reasons.

Your prescriber and/or pharmacist can still choose to include the brand name after the active ingredient on prescriptions or medicines labels where they feel it is necessary. The AIP initiative provides a set of principles which determine certain exceptions to this approach.

Choosing a specific brand

Sometimes, you may need (or prefer) to use a specific brand. Your prescriber and/or pharmacist can still give you a certain brand if they think it is needed, or if you request it. You should discuss your options with your prescriber or pharmacist. 

Although you can often save money by choosing a generic brand, some people should not change brands. Your doctor may also choose to prescribe you a certain brand. This is because they believe it is the one that best meets your health needs.

If your doctor decides you should only take a certain brand of your medicine, they can add the brand and check the ‘Brand substitution not permitted’ box on your prescription to notify the pharmacist.

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