How Long Are Prescriptions Valid For | MedAdvisor

February 12, 2024

What Are Prescriptions?

A prescription is a legal document written by your doctor and provided to your pharmacist to dispense a specific medication to you. 

Before writing you a prescription, your doctor will assess you, determine your medical needs, consider your other medical conditions, review your current medications and then decide what medicine is most appropriate for you. 

Your prescription can be generated electronically or on paper, and for added convenience, you can receive it via SMS or email.

Components of a Valid Prescription

For a prescription to be valid, it must include all of the following:

Date of issue Patients name and address Patients DOB Prescribing healthcare providers name, address, and contact phone number Drug name Drug strength Dosage form Quantity of drug


How Long Are Prescriptions Valid For?

Another important aspect of ensuring your prescription is valid is how long ago it was written, as prescriptions do expire.  How long a prescription is valid depends on the type of medication that is prescribed on it.  

Schedule 4 medications

This is the category most prescribed medications fall into. 
It includes most of your regular medications for common health conditions such as (but not exclusively):

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Conditions
  • COPD
  • Reflux
  • Prostate issues
  • Parkinson’s
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain

Schedule 4 medications also include antibiotics, strong painkillers like Panadeine Forte and most benzodiazepine-based medications.

Schedule 4 prescriptions are valid for 12 months from the prescription date.

Schedule 8 medications

This category refers to medications that are opioid-based and risk-causing addiction. It includes (but not exclusively):

  • Pethidine
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Ketamine
  • Some benzodiazepines 

Schedule 8 prescriptions are valid for six months from the date of prescription.

Why do Prescriptions Expire?

As your health conditions change, your regular medications may need to be changed or adjusted, or you might need another medication in the short term – perhaps an antibiotic to treat an infection.  Also, some medications have side effects that your doctor will monitor and adjust your medication if necessary. Therefore, the expiration of prescriptions is there to protect you and keep you safe.  

How Many Repeats Can You Get on a Prescription?

If the doctor has provided repeats on your prescription, you can get the next supply without seeing the doctor. Typically, for chronic conditions, it is common to get up to five repeats on your prescription, meaning the script will provide up to six months supply of your medication before you need to go back to the doctor for a new script.

How to Keep Track of Your Prescriptions

Keeping track of and having a valid prescription is crucial because, without it, you will be without your medication, and your health may suffer. Keeping on top of your prescriptions, especially if you take multiple medications daily, can be challenging. But here at MedAdvisor, we are on a mission to put your health in your hands!

The MedAdvisor app is a useful tool to help you track your prescriptions,  know how many repeats you have left, and keep on top of your medication supply! It will even notify you when you need a new prescription. 

Understanding Prescription Validity Matters

Whilst prescriptions may seem like simple documents, they are, in fact, legal documents that contain important instructions from your doctor to your pharmacist.

They must meet prescribing requirements and be used within their expiry date; otherwise, they are not valid.

Make Prescription Management Effortless with MedAdvisor

It's not uncommon to run out of valid prescriptions, especially if you have a busy lifestyle and take multiple medications.

MedAdvisor is a hassle-free solution for all your prescription management needs. Click here to learn what our medication management app can do for you.  And, if you are ready to take the guesswork out of prescription validity, download the MedAdvisor app for free today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Prescriptions Last in Australia?
In the land down under, the clock on your prescription starts ticking from the moment it's issued. Most prescriptions stay valid for a whole year, but if you're dealing with controlled substances, that window might be shorter.
Is It Okay to Use a Prescription After It Expires?
Think of an expired prescription like expired milk – not a great idea to use it. It's all about making sure you're getting the right treatment for now, not last year. Keep yourself in the clear and your health in check with current prescriptions.
Why Do Prescriptions Have an Expiry Date?
Just like your favourite snacks have a 'best before' date, prescriptions come with an expiry for a reason. It's all about ensuring your meds are effective and safe, and that your health gets a regular check-up. It's a nudge to revisit your doctor and keep your health journey up-to-date.
How Can I Manage Multiple Prescriptions Easily?
Juggling multiple prescriptions? Say hello to your new best friend, the MedAdvisor app. It's like having a personal assistant for your meds, keeping track of when to take them, when they run out, and when it's time for a refill.
How Can I Manage Multiple Prescriptions Easily?
Juggling multiple prescriptions? Say hello to your new best friend, the MedAdvisor app. It's like having a personal assistant for your meds, keeping track of when to take them, when they run out, and when it's time for a refill.
What Should I Do If My Prescription Is About to Expire?
If your prescription's expiry date is on the horizon, it's time for a chat with your doctor. They'll give you the lowdown on whether you need to continue the same medication or switch things up. It's all part of staying on top of your health game.
Are There Legal Issues with Using an Expired Prescription?
Using an expired prescription, especially for controlled substances, can land you in hot water legally. It's not just about health; it's about sticking to the rules. Always play it safe and legal with your meds.
Where Can I Find Reliable Info on Prescription Validity in Australia?
For the nitty-gritty on prescription rules in Australia, check out the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) or HealthDirect Australia. They've got all the details you need. And for keeping all that info in one handy place, don't forget the MedAdvisor app – it's your go-to for managing your meds with ease.


Hear Directly From Our Trusted Users:

      Having the MedAdvisor app on my phone has just taken away any angst and concern that I had beforehand. It does all the thinking for me.

Brooke Stroke Survivor andMedAdvisor User

Brooke Headshot



*For Schedule 8 and monitored Schedule 4 drugs, the following must be written in both words and numbers. The quantity and a statement regarding if refills are prohibited OR the number of times refills are allowed, with a legal maximum of five. 
** For Schedule 8 medications prescribed electronically, a handwritten signature from the provider is also required.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for medical advice.

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