Nurse Practitioners (NPs) experienced in the care and management of people living with HIV and hepatitis B in the community and hepatitis C in corrective services settings are now eligible to prescribe s100 medicines.

The relevant medicines listed for prescribing by NPs are identified by 'NP' in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Schedule. The National Health (Highly specialised drugs program) Special Arrangement Amendment (Authorised Nurse Practitioners) Instrument 2020 and explanatory statement outlines these changes.

ASHM is working to convert the HIV and hepatitis B s100 prescriber courses for online delivery and will promote upcoming HIV and Hepatitis B s100 Prescriber courses and Hepatitis C New Treatments courses to NPs in all states and territories.  Please visit the ASHM training calendar if you would like to review current and future training opportunities. To find out more about becoming accredited to be a prescriber contact education@ashm.org.au

This announcement follows PBAC’s endorsement of authorised NPs to prescribe hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV medicines under the Highly Specialised Drugs (HSD) program, which was announced in late 2019.

Shannon Woodward, Nurse Practitioner and President of the Australasian Sexual Health and HIV Nurses Association (ASHHNA) had this to say about the announcement:

“The recent changes enabling NPs to prescribe HIV antiretroviral therapy under the PBS s100 program has been enthusiastically received by NP members of ASHHNA. This is a long-anticipated win for NPs in the HIV sector.  NPs provide clinical services to people with HIV in urban, regional and rural areas and the opportunity for NPs to prescribe this medication as part of holistic patient care can only benefit both the patient and the health system. ASHHNA thanks all its NP members and ASHM for their determination over many years to achieve this outcome.”

Sinead Sheils, Nurse Practitioner and Vice President of Australasian Hepatology Association (AHA) shared that “the AHA strongly also welcomed the recent legislative changes enabling Nurse Practitioners to prescribe S100 Highly Specialised Drugs for HIV, HCV and HBV. It is expected that the changes will improve access to care for not only vulnerable patients in remote and regional areas, those experiencing homelessness, and those in custodial settings, but all patients who are under the care of Nurse Practitioners. The AHA would like to acknowledge the leadership provided by ASHM in the campaign which has resulted in these changes.”

Leanne Boase, Nurse Practitioner and President of the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) expressed her appreciation regarding the work done by ASHM representing people living with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.  “We celebrate this as a win for Nurse Practitioners to be added as authorised prescribers of the s100 medicines to treat HBV, HCV and HIV, but mostly we celebrate the significant improvement to care and quality of life that this will represent for our community.    

Nurse Practitioners work across all health sectors, and in all parts of Australia.  Many Nurse Practitioners work in locations or specialties where there is a high need for particular services, or where few other health professionals are available.  They are suitably trained and experienced to become prescribers of these medicines, and will be able to access the prescribing courses offered by ASHM.  While we are just approaching 2000 Nurse Practitioners in Australia, their practice is usually focussed on where there is the greatest need, so achievements like this will make a significant impact on our community. “

ASHM would like to acknowledge all of the organisations who provided feedback and support to the initial PBAC submission and also the many NPs and ASHM staff who have dedicated time over many years to advocate for this significant change in NP prescribing and community access to medicines.