10 latest stats on medicine use in Australia

medicines 2018 statistics number

A new report shows the number of prescriptions fell in 2016 to 2017, while PBS spending grew by 11% from the previous year

According the latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s Health 2018, the number of prescriptions has fallen in recent years but spending has increased.

Here are some numbers:

1. In 2016–17, more than 280 million prescriptions were dispensed under the PBS, down nearly 2% from the previous year. A further 9.3 million prescriptions were dispensed under the RPBS, also a drop (10%) from 2015–16.

2. In 2016–17, the Australian Government spent $12.1 billion on all PBS medicines (including s100 medicines)—an increase of 11% from $10.8 billion the previous year. This amounts to about 0.7% of gross domestic product (GDP), contributing slightly more as a proportion of GDP than the previous year.

Relatively new hepatitis C antiviral medicines, medicines for arthritis, and medicines to treat macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness) accounted for the most spending on medicines by the Australian Government.

3. Consumers paid $1.3 billion in patient contributions on generally available (s85) prescriptions priced above the co-payment in 2016–17—about 13% of the total expenditure on PBS medicines—with the Australian Government contributing the remaining 87%.

4. Individuals spent a total of $10.8 billion on medicines (including prescriptions priced above and below the co-payment, over-the-counter medicines and private prescriptions) in 2015–16.

5. Public hospitals reported spending around $2.9 billion on medicine supplies not covered by the PBS/RPBS in 2015–16.

6. Medicines used to treat cardiovascular conditions (including cholesterol-lowering medicines such as statins) were dispensed in larger volumes than medicines for other conditions over the 3 years to 2016–17.

7. The number of statins dispensed has been relatively stable over recent years. For example, atorvastatin—the medicine most often dispensed—was dispensed in a similar volume from 2014–15 to 2016–17—at around 10 million prescriptions each year.

8. Medicines to treat nervous system conditions were the second largest group dispensed, while medicines for the digestive tract were the third most dispensed group.

9. Three types of antibiotics were among the 10 most commonly dispensed medicines. In 2016–17, more than 60% of patients who used the PBS were dispensed at least one antibiotic.

10. The majority of PBS prescriptions are dispensed to people aged 65 and over. In 2016–17, people aged 80–84 had the highest rate of script dispensing per 1,000 people, followed by people aged 75–79.

See the full report here.

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