Changes to common over-the-counter medicines

Some over-the-counter medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will be removed from the Scheme listing from 1 January 2016.


NPS MedicineWise is encouraging people who are prescribed over-the-counter medicines to talk to their pharmacists and doctors about how the removal could affect them.


The listing changes will affect medicines used to treat a range of conditions, such as blood clot prevention, osteoarthritis-related pain, heartburn and reflux, eye infection, itchy skin and iron deficiency anaemia.


Some of the common over-the-counter medicines affected by the changes are:

  • Astrix (aspirin)

  • Spren 100 (aspirin)

  • Panamax (paracetamol in 500mg tablet, 100ml liquid and 200 ml liquid)

  • Panadol Osteo (paracetamol; 665g modified release tablets)

  • Chlorsig eye drops (0.5%) and ointment (1%)

  • Dulcolax suppositories (10 mg)

  • Gaviscon P and Mylanta P.

For a full list of all the medicines and the proposed changes refer to the PBS website.



The changes mean anyone currently prescribed any of these medicines by a doctor can no longer have a PBS script written for them and they cannot be purchased at a PBS-subsided price—the changes may also affect a patient’s PBS safety net threshold.


Dr Lynn Weekes, CEO of NPS MedicineWise says, “If you or someone you care about takes one of these over-the-counter medicines on medical advice, it is best to speak with your pharmacist or your prescribers as soon as possible so you know how the changes will affect you.


These medicines are already available over-the-counter from pharmacies. As you move to purchasing these medicines ‘over-the-counter’ rather than relying on a prescription with labelled instructions, remember to ask questions about dosage and anything else you are confused about.”


Your doctor can write a private prescription for the medicine although this may be more expensive than an over-the-counter purchase.


Some of the medicines will continue on the PBS for specific groups, such as people identifying as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, paraplegic or quadriplegic individuals, or those receiving palliative care.


It is always a good idea to keep a complete list of your medicines both prescribed and over-the-counter and to share this with your doctor or pharmacist. The free MedicineList+ smartphone app is one tool that can help, for example by setting reminders and keeping track of medications for yourself or someone you care for.


Further information is available on the NPS MedicineWise website


For more information about prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, 'natural', vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424). Calls from mobiles may cost more.


Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEDT (excluding public holidays).


15 December 2015.