Changes to Prescriptions – Now Listing Active Ingredients 

An announcement was made by the Department of Health that from 1 February, pharmacy prescriptions will change as we commonly know them.  

It is now mandatory for your treating health professional to list the active ingredients in your medicine on your actual prescription. This will be known as Active Ingredient Prescribing.  

The change was made to help consumers better understand what medicines they are being prescribedbe safer with prescription medication and reduce the accidental prescribing of the same medications or accidentally taking the same medication across multiple prescriptions or doctors. It should also reduce the risk of people being prescribed active ingredients that they have a potential allergy to, unknowingly. 

In the pastyou would have just seen on your prescription the brand name of the medicine, the required dosage, and instructions on how to take it, but for some, the use of brand names and generic names on scripts may have left people confused and added to the misconception that ‘brand names’ are more effective than generic options,’ even though they both include the same active ingredient and produce the same end result. 

In every medication there are also ‘inactive ingredients’, they are added to the medication for various reasons to help the medication act, taste, or aid in some way to help the active ingredient be effective in the body. The inactive ingredients may include substances such as lactose, gluten sugars, preservative, or dyes.  If you are concerned about the inactive ingredients in a medication, check with your pharmacist particularly if you are worried about allergies or intolerances 

Active ingredient prescribing will provide a clearer understanding of what active ingredients are in your medication and will enable you to make more informed decisions about the medications you are taking. However, if your doctor wishes you to take the ‘branded’ version of the medication they can still do this by adding the brand name and ticking the ‘Brand substitution not permitted’ box on your prescription. 

This new change applies not just to asthma medication but across all medication listed on the  Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation PBS (RPBS) medicinesAsthma Australia is continually trying to improve the overall health literacy and overuse of asthma medication for not only people with asthma but their carers and treating health professionals.  

Get familiar with the ingredients in your medication by downloading the Active Ingredients Guide for Asthma Medication. 

To learn more about asthma medications and devices, click here. 

For more information on Active Ingredient Prescribing, visit NPS Medicinewise. 

Additionally, if you would like to contact one of our Asthma Educators to help answer any asthma questions you may have, call 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) or email