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Pharmaceutical Benefits for Palliative Care


The prescribing of medications listed in this section is in accordance with the requirements for General Pharmaceutical Benefits in the Schedule unless otherwise detailed in the listing for the item.

In addition, certain additional principles have been applied by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) in recommending for whom these medications may be prescribed, and the number of repeats that may be approved by Department of Human Services. These principles have been encompassed in the listings for the items, and further details are provided below to help doctors prescribing under this section.

For the purposes of this section a patient receiving palliative care is defined as:

  • A patient with an active, progressive, far-advanced disease for whom the prognosis is limited and the focus of care is the quality of life.

The provision for increased maximum quantities and up to 3 repeats on the initial authority prescription is intended to provide up to 4 months' therapy in total. Where continuing treatment is required the provision of repeats is subject to confirmation by the prescriber that a palliative care physician or palliative care service has been consulted regarding the care of the patient.

Prescribers must heed State/Territory laws when prescribing drugs listed as narcotic, specified or restricted and must notify, or receive approval from, the appropriate health authority.

When a Palliative Care authority application is for a drug of addiction, the following guidelines apply:

  • the maximum quantity authorised is generally for 1 month’s therapy;
  • where supply for a longer period is warranted, quantities are for up to 3 months’ therapy;
  • telephone approvals are limited to 1 month’s therapy.

Doctors should also state (on the prescription) the interval of repeat where repeats are called for, and ensure State/Territory health authorities are notified about ongoing treatment.

Prescribers should be aware that patients receiving palliative care may also access PBS items included in the general part of the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits including narcotic preparations, according to the restrictions that apply to individual items and the requirements that apply to the general part of the Schedule.

Further information can be found in the factsheets.

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