The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) began as a limited scheme in 1948, with free medicines for pensioners and a list of 139 ‘life-saving and disease preventing’ medicines free of charge for others in the community.
Today the PBS provides timely, reliable and affordable access to necessary medicines for Australians. The PBS is part of the Australian Government’s broader National Medicines Policy.
The aim of the National Medicines Policy is to meet medication and related service needs, so that both optimal health outcomes and economic objectives are achieved.
Under the PBS, the government subsidises the cost of medicine for most medical conditions. Most of the listed medicines are dispensed by pharmacists, and used by patients at home.
Some medicines are dangerous to administer and need medical supervision (such as chemotherapy drugs) and are only accessible at specialised medical services, usually hospitals.