Do Prescriptions Expire?

Online Prescription


Do Prescriptions Expire?


A prescription is a legal document doctors provide to a pharmacist to dispense medicine.

It is illegal to obtain medications without the document. To ensure prescriptions are valid, prescribers must:

  • A standard ink-prescribed subscription or a computer-generated online prescription
  • Use a PBS authority prescription

Who Can Prescribe Medications?

The people who can prescribe medicines are health practitioners, including doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, and midwife practitioners.

According to the Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care, for doctors to prescribe medicines, they must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Complete accredited prescribing education and training aligned with their scope of practice.
  • Registered with AHPRA corresponding to their specialty.
  • Approved under the National Health Act of 1953 for prescribing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medicines.
  • Approved under state and territory legislation and regulations.

When do Prescriptions Expire in Australia?

Expiry is when the medication is no longer available.

But do prescriptions expire early? Typically, prescriptions last for 12 months from their prescription date. However, under some laws, they can be valid for up to six months.

For Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescriptions, you must present your Medicare card to the pharmacist if you wish to fill your prescription.

Once all the repeats and supplies are provided, the prescriptions have to be canceled, as well as expired prescriptions.

What Are the Things to Remember With Online Prescriptions?

When you receive your online prescription, it should include these details.

  • The doctor must document the patient’s name and address on the prescription.
  • Upon receiving the prescription, the pharmacist should verify these details to ensure the pharmaceutical benefit is intended for the specified individual.

If you are making a claim, ensure the following:

  • Patient details are aligned with Medicare card information.
  • The patient’s Medicare card number, including all 11 digits and the expiration date.
  • Confirm a valid entitlement number from a Health Care Card, Safety Net entitlement, or concession card, if applicable.
  • Prescriptions expire in 12 months from the date of issue. For Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescriptions, the presentation of your Medicare card is necessary at the pharmacy for prescription fulfillment.

What is the Prescription Format?

A standard prescription format that your healthcare professional can provide:

  • A handwritten prescription
  • A printed prescription
  • An electronic prescription (e-script) is sent to your phone or preferred pharmacy.

All prescriptions must include essential information, such as:

  • Prescriber’s/Doctor’s name, phone number, and address (including the prescriber number, if applicable)
  • Your name and address
  • Indication of whether you are a concession or general patient
  • Specification of PBS or RPBS, if relevant
  • Item details, including dose, form, strength, quantity, and usage instructions
  • Prescriber’s signature and date
  • Maximum number of allowed repeats before a reevaluation by the prescriber.

How Many Days Between Prescription Refills in Australia?

Unlimited prescriptions for different medicines can be filled simultaneously, but generally, only one prescription for the same medicine can be filled at once.

Repeats usually cannot be refilled within 20 days unless the pharmacist deems an immediate supply necessary.

Can you Obtain Prescriptions Over the Phone in Australia?

In Australia, it is possible to obtain a prescription over the phone. This has become especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rise of telehealth services allows individuals to seek medical advice online.


Telehealth services leverage technology for online patient-doctor interactions. 

These interactions can occur through phone calls, live chats, or various technological means.

Telehealth helps individuals by providing convenient access to healthcare without needing physical travel.

When obtaining an online prescription, check the healthcare provider’s credentials, reliability, and reviews. It is also important to understand the laws when checking for their validity.

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