Five ways to cut the costs of your medication

In Australia, prescription medications are covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), but if you’re taking regular medication the costs can

In Australia, prescription medications are covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), but if you’re taking regular medication the costs can soar. In fact, consumer advocacy group Choice says that “medicine prices are one of the top cost-of-living concerns” in Australia.

Fortunately, there are some methods which can save you money on prescriptions. As Choice says, “anything you can do to reduce the cost of medication is going to take the pressure off your household budget”.

1. Buy generic brands

When your pharmacists asks if you’d like a generic brand, they’re not selling you inferior medication. Instead, generic medications contain the same ingredients but aren’t patented by major pharmaceutical manufacturers. As such, they’re normally much cheaper.

Generic brands must meet the same quality, safety and efficacy standards as branded medications. When a patent exists (normally for 25 years) the original manufacturer has sole rights to sell the medication. However after that period, other manufacturers can apply to the government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration to sell generic versions.

This saves you money!

2. Review your medication

Ask your GP to review the medication that you’re taking collectively. This can help eliminate any prescriptions you no longer need, or identify if two of your medications are doing the same job.

Reviewing your medication is not only beneficial for your purse, it’s beneficial for your health too. As Choice explains, “instead of taking two or more pills, (some) medicines are sometimes combined in a single tablet, which not only saves you money… it’s also a lot more convenient”.

3. Use the safety net 

If you and your family buy lots of medication, safety nets can apply to cap your medical expenses each calendar year. For pensioners and concession holders, the cap is $366 and after that PBS-listed medications are free. For other Australians, the PBS safety net kicks in after $1453.

“If you do go through a lot of medication it’s a good idea to ask your pharmacist for a prescription record form so you can keep track of your spending and receive safety net benefits,” adds Choice.

4. Stay loyal 

Visiting a regular GP and shopping with the same pharmacist can save you money. Whilst medications on the PBS cannot be discounted, it always helps to have medical professionals who understand your health history. They may be able to advise on appropriate dosages, and whether you’re eligible for entitlements such as the safety net.

Moreover, shopping at the same pharmacy can offer you discounts on cosmetics and toiletries, such as supplements, skincare and nutritional products.

5. Check your dosage

If your dosage for a particular medication is higher than average, you may be able to request an “authority prescription”. To do this, your GP needs to contact Medicare for approval and enter a special code on the prescription.

With an authority prescription, you will pay the same for medication as someone on a standard dose.

How do you save on the cost of medication? Do you have any thrifty tips to share with our community? Does the cost of medication ever trouble you?




  1. I have to say not all generics created equal. There are some that for whatever reason do NOT behave the same. I don’t understand why!

    • Hi Kerry some say it’s the outer coating on the pill, I haven’t found any difference though my husband has. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. I always ask for generic option, they are exactly the same ingredients & are lower in cost & they have the same affect.

  3. I totally disagree with the heading of this piece. Regular medication over a certain age is not a fact of life at all. There are many many who live to a ripe old age and never take any regular medication. Most of my family fall into that category as do I and so many of my friends.

    • At this stage I don’t take any and if my Doctor suggest I should I go and research it first, I haven’t found anything that doesn’t have horrible side effects yet so then go on to find alternative options. I’m 64, have never had any major illnesses, only had 1 visit to hospital and that was when I was nine to have my tonsils out. I do Pilates 2 or 3 times a week and walk every day. I don’t believe you need half the drugs that Doctors seem to love prescribing…..

    • Some of us are not so fortunate Linda. Medications not only improve quality of life but also save a lot of lives….

    • Judy Cameron I don’t think Linda meant no medications are worth while. Of course you are right that some are lifesavers but she too is right that so many are over prescribed and don’t question what is being given, why or what the side effects are. Like Linda I too do my own research and usually decide the side effects are worse than the cure so search for some more natural path to take if I hae an issue. Wishing you both all the best.

    • Each to their own Robyn and i respect that. I will always put my trust in medical science. I work in the nursing profession. There are some areas natural therapies do have their place but we would be in a terrible place without modern medicine

    • Brian Lee  

      Sorry, I just don’t get it! What is the problem with the headline here, which says “Five ways to cut the costs of your medication” What’s to disagree with about that? And it doesn’t mention anything about regular medication either, it simply says if you ARE on medication you might be able to save some money. Daft I call it!

  4. At age 63 I take no medication and only wear glasses for reading in dim light. I have not had a sick day from work since 2011 and then it was for a knee replacement. Last time i saw my doctor – 2 years ago he said ‘I should check your blood pressure.” Normal! And yes, I’m a teacher so work full time 5 days a week so am around lots of ‘bugs’ on a daily basis.

    • Hope your BP is still normal as it has not been checked for two years. It’s called “the silent killer” for good reason. I say this from personal experience!

  5. I also disagree with the header of this article. There are plenty of us who do not need regular medication, and too many others are over medicated. Certainly get your doctor to check to see if you actually need the medications you are taking, (Still working at 73)

  6. Far too many are over medicated. I only take natural remedies…..
    There is a better life without pharmaceuticals ……

  7. Well done people.
    Unfortunately I have medical issues and to keep this quality of life I am on regular medication….I see my specialist fortnightly and have a great gp…but its not that I like taking pills guys…its that I like enjoying life with a disability….for any of you like me…WEBSTER PACKS are a God send and I have 2 a week…normally $7 or $28 a minth just to pack my meds and make sure I take things at the right time.My chemist does not charge the packing fee, they are also a discount chemist outlet so the money I save just on pavking feeds my fur baby…

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