Health Minister Sussan Ley has announced not only the signing of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, but also the five-year Agreement with the Generic Medicines industry Association, telling consumers that the price of many common medicines could be slashed.
These cuts could benefit millions of Australians, she says, potentially saving them over $100 a year.
In one of the biggest reforms of the PBS proposed in the last decade, the Abbott Government has come to an agreement with GMiA that will significantly reduce the price of generic medicines for patients and taxpayers.
This could see some of Australia’s most common medicines for cholesterol, heart conditions and depression halve in price – in some cases by as much as $10 per script for general patients – saving chronic users upwards of $120 or more each year from October next year.
Minister Ley says the GMiA agreement will also see the Government improve rules around incentives for pharmacists to offer patients the option of generics, as well as $20 million for a campaign to increase consumer confidence in the use of biosimilar medicines.
The GMiA agreement will also complement measures secured in the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, including the doubling pharmacy primary care support program funding to $1.26 billion over five years, and the option for pharmacies to offer a $1 discount, per script, on the patient co-payment.
This discount could particularly benefit concessional patients, the Minister says, as their copayment could drop as low as $5.10 per script.
Minister Ley says both agreements are a “big win for consumers” and backed the Government’s decision to include consumer representatives in the negotiations from the beginning.
“We want to ensure Australians continue to have affordable access to the medicines they need now and into the future,” she says.
“When you have a life-threatening disease or chronic condition requiring ongoing medication, any dollars you can save per script quickly add up to make a big difference at the end of the year.
“Throughout the Government’s negotiations with the entire pharmaceutical supply chain we have had consumers at the core of our negotiations and I think this shines through in the sensible measures we’re delivering.”
Minister Ley says a number of the measures saving patients money were also set to “pay dividends” for taxpayers by driving efficiencies that could then be reinvested back into the health system, including the listing of new medicines.
“For example, removing ‘originator’ brands from price calculations for everyday medicines could see the price of common generic drugs halve for some patients whilst also saving taxpayers $2 billion over five years,” she says.
“The proposal to allow pharmacists to discount the price of medicines by up to $1 per script could save some pensioners about $40 per year, whilst also introducing greater competition into the pharmacy sector and delivering the Government about $400 million worth of efficiencies over five years.”
She says the Abbott Government has doubled the number of medicine listings since coming to office to more than 650 – a significant investment of almost $3 billion in just over 18 months – and the demand on the PBS for new listings was expected to continue to grow over the next five years.
The Minister says the Government is also delivering stronger protections and transparency for consumers and taxpayers through the agreements, with all new and existing pharmacy programs to be evaluated by the Government’s expert Medical Services Advisory Committee for clinical and cost effectiveness.
This is in addition to the independent public review of pharmacy location rules and remuneration to be conducted over the first two years of the agreement.
Minister Ley says those elements from both agreements requiring legislative approval will be introduced into Parliament today as one balanced package of measures.