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New Dispensing Arrangements Improve Access to HIV and Hepatitis B Medicines

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​New arrangements for the dispensing of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for people living with HIV, as well as medicines for those affected by chronic hepatitis B, will come into effect on 1st July, 2015.

22 June 2015​

​​New arrangements for the dispensing of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for people living with HIV, as well as medicines for those affected by chronic hepatitis B, will come into effect on 1st July, 2015.

"We are very pleased with these changes to some of the PBS medicines under the Highly Specialised Drugs program," said Levinia Crooks, CEO of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM). "The new dispensing arrangements will allow people living with HIV and hepatitis B to have access to medicines in the community."

The changes will permit pharmacies to dispense prescriptions for HIV ART, clozapine and hepatitis B medicines that have been written after 1 July 2015 whether or not they are receiving treatment at or from a hospital.

"Community-based practitioners who are authorised to prescribe HIV antiretroviral therapy or hepatitis B medicines, will no longer be required to demonstrate an association with a hospital," said Levinia Crooks.

"Under the new arrangements, patients may have these prescriptions dispensed from a pharmacy or from a hospital pharmacy — the choice is up to the patient."

According to the Australian Government Department of Health, these changes will make it "easier for practitioners to prescribe and for patients to have their prescriptions dispensed, better reflecting current clinical practice where treatment is increasingly being provided in the community setting."

The practitioner must be authorised to prescribe under their state or territory arrangements and must include the STREAMLINED authority code on the prescription. STREAMLINED Authority codes are listed in the PBS Schedule, available at www.pbs.gov.au. Prescribing software also includes streamlined authority codes.  Prescribers will no longer need to provide a hospital number on the PBS prescription.

These medicines can only be prescribed by tertiary consultants and general practitioners who are accredited and maintain their continuing professional development (CPD) in HIV and/or hepatitis B. ASHM maintains the program of accreditation and maintenance for both HIV and hepatitis B in many states and territories of Australia.

For valid PBS prescriptions written on or after 1st July 2015, all approved pharmacies will be able to dispense HIV ART and hepatitis B medicines through the Highly Specialised Drugs program.

All patient eligibility requirements remain unchanged. Patients will continue to pay a PBS co-payment, which will contribute to their PBS Safety Net record.

Increases to PBS quantities and/or increased repeats will continue to require telephone-based PBS Authority approval.

Prescriptions and repeats dated prior to the 1st July 2015 still need to be dispensed under the current hospital-based arrangements.

These changes also affect dispensing of clozapine.

For information about becoming an accredited HIV prescriber, please visit: http://www.ashm.org.au/hiv/prescriber-programs

For information about becoming an accredited hepatitis B prescriber, please visit: http://www.ashm.org.au/HBV/prescriber-programs-hepb

Further information for pharmacists is available here: http://www.ashm.org.au/programs/community-pharmacy

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