Accessing medicine during a disaster

Natural disasters, such as floods and fires, can make it difficult for you to access medicines. However, there are ways you can make sure you get the medication you need during an emergency.

If you need to take your medicine with food or water, make sure that you are using safe drinking water and following the food safety guidelines.

I don’t have my prescription

In an emergency you can still get your Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) medicine without a prescription.

If you can get to your usual pharmacy, they will supply your PBS medicines depending on the situation. For instance, they may provide you with medicines for 3 days without prescription or contact your doctor for a verbal prescription.

You will have to pay the PBS or DVA co-payments for verbal prescriptions or the full cost of the medicines for an emergency supply. The cost of a three-day emergency supply does not count towards your PBS Safety Net.

I can’t get to my usual pharmacy

If you can't get to your usual pharmacy, visit another community pharmacy if it is safe.

In an emergency situation, your GP's prescriptions can be filled by Queensland Health public hospital pharmacies. However, please be aware that hospitals may not stock the full range of medicines prescribed by your GP, as the needs of hospital and community patients are different.

I can’t access my money

First, try and organise emergency payment from Centrelink so that you are able to pay the legally required co-payment for the medicine.

In an urgent situation, you may be able to negotiate a credit arrangement with your pharmacy or public hospital pharmacy. If a pharmacy or a public hospital agrees to dispense medicines without collecting a co-payment, they will record the details and will ask you to pay any co-payments later.

I don’t have my Medicare or concession card

Your pharmacy or public hospital can get your card details for you by calling Medicare. This means that:

  1. your eligibility to receive PBS medicines can be confirmed
  2. these medicines are recorded for the PBS Safety Net
  3. if you have a concession card, the patient co-payment will be at the concessional level.

You can request a replacement Medicare card online  or by call Medicare on 13 20 11.

You will still have to pay the PBS or DVA co-payments.

I need to replace my medicine

If you have lost your medicine but still have your prescription, your pharmacy can dispense a new supply in an emergency situation, even if the prescription was last filled less than 20 days ago. However, any co-payments will not count towards the PBS Safety Net.

If your medication requires special authority, your doctor can call Medicare for authority to issue another prescription so the pharmacist can dispense the medicine again, even if it is 'too soon'.

I need my medicine urgently

For urgent assistance with getting your medicine in an emergency situation, contact the State Emergency Services (SES) on 132 500 to arrange evacuation or an alternative supply.