Prescriptions

States and territories

The Australian Capital Territory (649.2 subsidised and 1,343.3 subsidised and under co-payment prescriptions per 1,000 population) had the lowest rate of PBS and RPBS prescriptions per 1,000 population for both subsidised and subsidised and under co-payment prescriptions in 2017–18 (with the exception of the Northern Territory; see Figure PBS.4, and the associated note). Conversely, Tasmania had the highest rate of prescriptions (1,429.8 subsidised and 2,045.3 subsidised and under co-payment prescriptions per 1,000 population). These patterns were similar to the patient rates (see Figure PBS.1).

 
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Figure PBS.4 Alternative text - Source data: XLS DownloadMental health-related prescriptions (59KB XLS).

Note: A proportion of the Australian Government subsidy of pharmaceuticals in remote Aboriginal communities (primarily the Northern Territory) is funded through the Aboriginal Health Service program, where drugs are supplied directly to patients and hence are not included in this data. Therefore data presented for the Northern Territory are considered to be an underestimate.

Prescription characteristics

Of the 37.7 million mental health-related prescriptions (subsidised and under co-payment) provided in 2017–18, the majority (86.8%) were prescribed by GPs, with another 7.8% prescribed by psychiatrists and 4.4% by non-psychiatric specialists. These proportions were similar for subsidised prescriptions.

The majority of subsidised and under co-payment mental health-related prescriptions were for Antidepressants (70.0%, or 26.4 million) in 2017–18, followed by Antipsychotics (10.9%), Anxiolytics (9.5%), Hypnotics and sedatives (6.1%) and Psychostimulants and nootropics (3.5%) (Figure PBS.5). Among the categories of medications, the majority of prescriptions were issued by GPs, except for Psychostimulants and nootropics. Similar patterns were observed for subsidised prescriptions.

 
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Figure PBS.5 Alternative text - Source data: XLS DownloadMental health-related prescriptions (59KB XLS).

Antipsychotics and Antidepressants (8.7 prescriptions for both) had the highest average number of subsidised and under co-payment prescriptions per patient in 2017–18. Psychostimulants and nootropics had the least number of prescriptions prescribed, but had the third highest rate of prescriptions per patient (7.3). A similar pattern was observed for subsidised prescriptions.

Females (1818.5 per 1,000 population) had a higher rate of subsidised and under co-payment mental health-related prescriptions than males (1,199.5) in 2017–18. Of the age groups, those aged 65 and over (2,989.4) had the highest prescription rate, while those aged less than 15 (204.3) had the lowest. For remoteness areas, people living in Inner regional areas (1,930.5) had the highest prescription rate. The variation in prescription rates among demographic groups was broadly consistent with the number of people receiving mental health-related prescriptions (see Figure PBS.2).

Over time

For the period 2013–14 to 2017–18, the rate (per 1,000 population) of subsidised and under co-payment mental health-related prescriptions increased from 1,424.6 to 1,523.6, an average annual increase of 1.7%. In contrast, the rate of PBS and RPBS subsidised prescriptions decreased from 1,042.2 to 975.8 per 1,000 population, an average annual decrease of 1.6% (Figure PBS.6).

 
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