Prescriptions dispensed

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data collection contains data for prescriptions dispensed under the PBS and Repatriation PBS (RPBS). PBS item claims are mapped to the Anatomical Therapeutic Classification (ATC) index, a classification system that is recommended by the World Health Organization as the international standard for presenting and comparing drug usage data. The ATC groups medicines according to the body organ or system on which they act, as well as their therapeutic and chemical characteristics. Item codes for selected medications analysed in this report are shown in Table 7.

Table 7: PBS codes for selected medications of interest

Selected medication

ATC code

Dementia specific medications







N05BA, N05CD, N05CF


N02A, R05DA04

Cardiovascular medications

B01, C

Diabetes (glucose regulating) medications


This report examined rates of polypharmacy (when people are regularly using 5 or more distinct medications at the same time) and rates of hyper-polypharmacy (when people are regularly using 10 or more distinct medications at the same time). People were considered 'regular users' of a medication if 4 or more prescriptions were dispensed for a medicine of interest in 2019 (AIHW 2023). Polypharmacy medication counts excluded the following ATC codes: J01, D02, D04, D06, D07, D08, V04, V06, V07, D01A, D11A, G01A, D05A, D10A, D11A. 


AIHW (2023) Number of people dispensed five or more medicines per 100,000 people aged 75 years and over, 2019, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 6 April 2023.