What are the ten most commonly dispensed, and the ten most expensive drugs on the PBS at the moment?
A drug used to treat eye conditions such as macular degeneration cost the taxpayer almost $400 million in 2019/2020, newly released data has revealed.
Analysis of 2019/20 PBS and RPBS data has shown the most commonly prescribed drugs as well as the ten costliest medications to government.
The data, published in Australian Prescriber, shows that many of the ten most expensive drugs are biologicals – based on monoclonal antibodies.
Heading the list is aflibercept (Eylea), followed by the cancer treatment nivolumab (Opdivo).
Meanwhile, cholesterol-lowering drugs and blood pressure drugs made up most of the top ten most commonly used prescription drugs in Australia in 2019-2020. Rosuvastatin and atorvastatin top the list for both the total number of prescriptions during the 12 month period, but also in terms of the most defined daily doses taken by patients.
The antidepressant sertraline (sold under the trade name Zoloft) is a new entry to the list of most commonly prescribed drugs by population.
The tables below show the top 10 drugs for the year July 2019 – June 2020. The figures are based on
PBS and RPBS prescriptions from the date of supply. The figures include prescriptions under
the co-payment (non-subsidised).
Table 1: Top 10 PBS/RPBS drugs by DDD/1000 population/day
- atorvastatin 72.93 DDD/1000 pop/day
- rosuvastatin 61.03
- perindopril 52.34
- amlodipine 50.15
- candesartan 33.52
- telmisartan 32.19
- irbesartan 29.87
- ramipril 26.44
- sertraline 25.67
- metformin 25.5
*DDD = defined daily dose
Table 2: Top 10 PBS/RPBS drugs by prescription counts
- rosuvastatin 12,968,693 prescriptions
- atorvastatin 11,241,737
- pantoprazole 8,283,205
- esomeprazole 8,171,291
- perindopril 6,688,735
- cefalexin 5,347,062
- metformin 5,183,224
- escitalopram 4,983,887
- amoxicillin 4,777,911
- sertraline 4,714,321
Table 3: Top 10 PBS/RPBS drugs by cost to government (does not include rebates)
Rows – drug cost to government, number of prescriptions
- aflibercept $392,045,570 315,200 prescriptions
- nivolumab $344,751,398 51,882
- pembrolizumab $342,875,272 38,860
- adalimumab $320,969,041 257,328
- denosumab $244,407,111 884,413
- sofosbuvir + velpatasvir $223,484,429 17,733
- ranibizumab $218,085,968 190,126
- ustekinumab $211,250,971 29,603
- apixaban $210,022,698 2,580,428
- glecaprevir + pibrentasvir $186,730,613 9,956