Transition to Active Ingredient Prescribing

Transition to Active Ingredient Prescribing: what this means for you and updating your MasterCare+ workflows.

As of February 1st 2021, the way medicine information looks on prescriptions to patients from health professionals is changing. This change is part of an Australian Government initiative to use active ingredient names as opposed to brand names when prescribing medicines.

The Department of Health changed the legislation impacting the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Repatriation PBS, however they have announced a grace period of 6 months (until July 31 2021) for this transition to the Active Ingredient Prescribing (AIP) scheme.

So, what does this mean and how will the new changes impact prescribers and consumers?

The purpose of the changes will create many benefits for clinicians and patients alike. It will give consumers a greater understanding of health literacy surrounding their medication, allowing less room for error and will enable clinicians to promote better quality use of medicines.

Currently, consumers are more inclined to gravitate towards branded medicines over generic names of medicines, having the mindset that the former is more superior for their health. More clarity on active ingredients in consumer’s medication allows for prescribers and clinicians to educate and empower their clients more effectively.

Consumer’s lack of knowledge on key ingredients contained in branded medicines has caused confusion, leading to the overlapping of medication. The changes will mean that active ingredients will be listed first in prescriptions, and the brand name will only be included if it is necessary to do so (with some exceptions listed below). This will support greater consistency around how medicines information is seen and understood by patients, allowing pharmacists to provide consumers with alternative options for their medicines when/if shortages of certain branded medicines arise.

For some consumers, this will be a welcome change to their out-of-pocket expenses. The use of generic labelled medicine is seen to be much more cost effective for the consumer in many circumstances.

For prescribers, it allows for greater success in prescribing care plans. It makes it easier to talk about different medicine options available that contain the same active ingredients and gives prescribers the peace of mind knowing that healthcare plans are more accessible and likely to be utilised by their patients.


So, what are the exceptions to the AIP scheme?

There are times when it is important to continue using the same brand of medicine. Therefore, health professionals can still prescribe a specific brand of medicine if they think it’s necessary. Some other exceptions to active ingredient prescribing include:

  • Handwritten prescriptions
  • Paper-based medication charts in residential aged care settings
  • Medicines with four or more active ingredients
  • Non-medicinal items which don’t have active ingredients (e.g. dressings, nutritional products)
  • A small number of items that have been specifically excluded from active ingredient prescribing.


How will AIP impact your workflow within MasterCare+?

You can expect to see some minor changes when prescribing through MasterCare+.

We have listed below a quick and easy guide on how our system can assist prescribers when adapting to the new AIP rules:

  • After searching and selecting a medication from the drop-down list, if the medication is on the List of Medicines for Brand Consideration (LBMC), it will pop up “Is brand name clinically necessary?”

Screenshot: MasterCare+ - Brand Name Clinically Necessary

  • The answer will update the value of the new option of “Include Brand Name“ on the prescription medication screen.

Active Ingredient – Plus brand

MasterCare+: Active Ingredient - Plus Brand

Active Ingredient only

MasterCare+: Active Ingredient Only

  • It will display the medication name as “active ingredient plus brand” or “active ingredient only”.
  • If the medication is on the List of Excluded Medicinal Items (LEMI), it will simply display the medication name as “brand only”.

Brand only

MasterCare+: Brand Only

Is there further support available for prescribers?
The Department of Health has worked with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to develop a range of support materials to keep them informed on the new regulations and what they mean for their practices and patients.

Check out the active ingredient prescribing user guide for prescribers here, and the active ingredient fact sheet for health professionals here.