As the end of 2015 nears, NPS MedicineWise has joined other stakeholders in encouraging Australians who are prescribed OTC medicines to talk to their pharmacists and doctors about how the removal of some of these medicines from the PBS could affect them.
From 1 January 2016, 17 common medicines that are readily available over-the-counter and also through prescription will have their PBS listing altered or removed.
The listing changes will affect medicines used to treat a range of conditions, such as blood clot prevention, osteoarthritis-related pain, heartburn and reflux, eye infection, itchy skin and iron deficiency anaemia.
Dr Lynn Weekes, CEO of NPS MedicineWise told consumers that if they or someone they care about takes one of these OTC medicines on medical advice, it is best to speak with their pharmacist or prescribers as soon as possible to get a clear picture of how the changes will affect them.
“These medicines are already available over-the-counter from pharmacies,” she advised consumers.
“As you move to purchasing these medicines ‘over-the-counter’ rather than relying on a prescription with labelled instructions, remember to ask questions about dosage and anything else you are confused about.”
She reminded consumers about the possibility of obtaining a private prescription for the medicine, cautioning that this may be more expensive than an over-the-counter purchase.
Some of the medicines will continue on the PBS for specific groups, such as people identifying as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, paraplegic or quadriplegic individuals, or those receiving palliative care, she says.
She also encourages consumers to keep a complete list of their medicines both prescribed and over-the-counter and to share this with their doctor or pharmacist.