Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

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The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or PBS is a program of the Australian Government that provides subsidised prescription drugs to residents of Australia. The PBS ensures that all Australians have affordable and reliable access to a wide range of necessary medicines.


The PBS was established in 1948 by supplying approximately 140 lifesaving and disease-preventing drugs. The PBS was introduced by Prime Minister Ben Chifley as part of wider plans to create a British-style National Health Service, but the High Court of Australia soon ruled most of Chifley's health care plans as unconstitutional. However, the PBS was not ruled as unconstitutional. Medicines on the PBS list were free to the consumer until 1960, when nominal user charges were introduced.

Operation of the PBS

The PBS is governed by the National Health Act 1953 (Cth) and National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Regulations 1960 (Cth). Pharmaceutical Benefits under the PBS may only be supplied by pharmacists and medical practitioners approved under the Act. The PBS is administered by Medicare Australia (formerly the Health Insurance Commission) under the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cth).

In order to receive a Pharmaceutical Benefit under the PBS, a consumer is prescribed the drug listed in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits. The subsidy is automatically applied when the drug is dispensed at a pharmacy and the cost to the patient is the patient co-payment contribution rather than the full cost of the...
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