Australia’s 10 most expensive drugs

pills on $20 note

Expensive medicines used to treat hepatitis C have cost the government more than any other drugs over the past year

New figures based on PBS and RPBS scripts for the year July 2016 to June 2017 have revealed Australia’s most commonly taken, most-prescribed and costliest drugs.

And this year, the figures take into account prescriptions under the co-payment (non-subsidised), which allows drugs like amoxicillin to move upwards in the list.

In terms of cost to government (not including rebates), the top spot was taken out by ledipasvir and sofosbuvir, with 43,139 prescriptions for the medicine filled at a cost of $969,208,772.

The runner-up was sofosbuvir alone, with 47,160 scripts and costing $927,284,256.

The full top 10 were:

  • Ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (costing $969,208,772);
  • Sofosbuvir (costing $927,284,256);
  • Daclatasvir (costing $347,075,507);
  • Adalimumab (costing $320 626 014);
  • Aflibercept (costing $261,241,529);
  • Ranibizumab (costing $213,069,118);
  • Trastuzumab (costing $160,173,513);
  • Pregabalin (costing $159,616,588);
  • Denosumab (costing $152,044,886); and
  • Etanercept (costing $146,737,356).

In terms of prescription counts and top 10 drugs by defined daily dose, the statins remained on top.

Atorvastatin was the top drug by DDD, at 69.34DDD/1000 population/day, followed by rosuvastatin.

Top 10 by DDD/1000 population/day:

  • Atorvastatin (69.34);
  • Rosuvastatin (50.14);
  • Perindopril (49.23);
  • Amlodipine (43.72);
  • Irbesartan (34.02);
  • Candesartan (32.51);
  • Telmisartan (29.59);
  • Esomeprazole (29.54);
  • Ramipril (28.20); and
  • Metformin (23.61).

The top 10 drugs by prescription count were:

  • Atorvastatin (10,354,080 scripts);
  • Rosuvastatin (10,239,733 scripts);
  • Esomeprazole (9,284,540 scripts);
  • Pantoprazole (6,737,757 scripts);
  • Perindopril (6,184,545 scripts);
  • Cephalexin (5,473,562 scripts);
  • Amoxicillin (5,445,791 scripts);
  • Metformin (4,941,822 scripts);
  • Amoxicillin and clavulanic acid (4,908,573 scripts); and
  • Irbesartan (4,076,242 scripts).

“The statistics suggest how chronic conditions are being managed by health professionals in Australia,” says editor of Australian Prescriber Dr John Dowden.

“Medicines are only part of the solution. Lifestyle changes are an important part of the management of conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“We are seeing a continuation of the trend of recent years that the drugs with the highest cost to the PBS aren’t necessarily the most frequently prescribed medicines,” said Dr Dowden.

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