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Pharmaceutical Reform Overview

Pharmaceutical Reform aims to improve medication management throughout Tasmanian public hospitals. Pharmaceutical Reform has two main components:

  • Implementation of the Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory Council (APAC) Guidelines for pharmaceutical care.
  • Access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for eligible outpatient and discharge prescriptions.

Benefits of Pharmaceutical Reform:

  • Appropriate quantities of medications supplied to patients on discharge.
  • Reduced confusion between long-term and short courses of medications
  • Reduced urgency for patients to see their GP immediately after discharge
  • Improved patient compliance
  • Improved patient education.
  • Improved documentation and communication of medication related information on transfer from hospital to the community healthcare setting.
  • Increased clinical pharmacy staff available to undertake APAC activities.


APAC Guidelines

As part of the Agreement with the Commonwealth that allows public hospitals to access PBS funding, hospitals must be able to show their work standards are consistent with the Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory Council (APAC) Guidelines. The APAC Guidelines are designed to improve patient care. Follow this link to see an overview of the APAC Guidelines.
In order to fulfil the requirements of the APAC Guidelines, public hospitals are increasing the staffing numbers of ward/clinical pharmacists. This aims to ensure that the required activities can be performed consistently for every appropriate patient. The funding for the new staff will be supported by the costs saved from utilising PBS funding for medication supply.



The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is a system of subsidising the cost of a large number of prescription medicines. These items are listed on the PBS Schedule, which is updated on a monthly basis. The PBS Schedule can be accessed via The PBS aims to provide reliable and affordable access to a wide range of medicines. Australian residents with a Medicare card and overseas visitors from a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) with Australia are eligible to receive subsidised medications from the PBS Schedule. It is the system community pharmacies use to provide most medications to the public.
Under Pharmaceutical Reform, Tasmanian public hospitals will have the opportunity to access the PBS to subsidise the cost of outpatient and discharge medications for eligible patients.

PBS Prescriptions:

A prescription form has been designed by Medicare Australia specifically for public hospitals implementing Pharmaceutical Reform. This enables the hospitals to claim PBS reimbursement.
Link to Sample Prescription Form

Patient Co-payments:

Patients are required to make a co-payment for all dispensed PBS and non-PBS medication supplied at their discharge or when they visit an outpatient clinic. The co-payment amount will be the same or similar to what is already charged by community pharmacy and will depend upon the patient’s current entitlement details (i.e. possession of a healthcare card, pension card, DVA or PBS Safety Net card). The PBS co-payment amount is set by the Australian Government and indexed annually.
Until Pharmaceutical Reform, Tasmanian public hospitals have only collected a co-payment for pharmaceuticals dispensed to outpatients.


The PBS Safety Net:

The PBS Safety Net Scheme exists to protect individuals and families who spend a lot on medications in a calendar year. Once a patient or their family reach the PBS Safety Net threshold they can apply for a PBS Safety Net Card.
The PBS Safety Net Scheme will continue to operate in public hospitals. Both PBS and non-PBS items (up to the amount of the applicable co-payment) can be added to a PBS Safety Net tally.