Medicines and the PBS

Many drugs – especially chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy drugs – are expensive. The Australian Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidises the cost of many prescription medicines for people with a current Medicare card.

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Concession cards and allowances

Some PBS medicines are cheaper for people with a Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Health Care Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Health Card. You will need to show your card to the pharmacist when you get your prescription filled.

People who receive some Centrelink payments may be eligible for a Pharmaceutical Allowance, which can help to cover the costs of prescription medicines. For information and to check if you qualify, visit the Department of Human Services.

PBS Safety Net

The PBS Safety Net further reduces the cost of PBS medicines once you or your family have spent a certain amount on them each year. This amount is known as the Safety Net threshold. When you reach the threshold, your pharmacist can give you a PBS Safety Net card, and your prescription medicines for the rest of the year will be discounted (or free if you have an eligible concession card). For more information, call the PBS Information Line on 1800 020 613 or visit

Generic medicines

Your pharmacist may ask if you would like a generic brand of your prescribed medicine. Generic medicines contain the same active ingredients as more expensive brands. The medicine may look different, but it still meets the high standards of quality, safety and effectiveness set by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which regulates medicines sold in Australia. It is your choice whether to buy the generic or original brand.

Non-PBS prescriptions

Doctors may prescribe a medicine that is not on the PBS. This is known as a private prescription and you will need to pay the full price. It may cost more than PBS medicines and it will not count towards the PBS Safety Net. Private health insurance may cover some or all of the cost of a private prescription. Check with your insurer.

Paying for medicines

  • Public patients in hospital do not pay for most medicines, including intravenous chemotherapy drugs, as the cost is covered by the PBS. Talk to your treatment team about whether you have to contribute to the cost of oral chemotherapy drugs.
  • If you choose to be treated as a private patient, you may have to contribute to the cost of chemotherapy drugs. Check with your doctor and health fund before starting treatment.
  • Some doctors only prescribe PBS medicines to make treatment affordable. Ask your doctor for every option – including private prescriptions – so you can make an informed decision about your treatment.
  • You usually have to pay for medicines you take at home. Keep a record of your PBS medicines on a Prescription Record Form, available from your pharmacist, so you know when you’ve reached the Safety Net threshold.

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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

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To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in June 2019
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