Health Minister Sussan Ley spruiks PBS package – signals price cut

Sussan Ley

More than 2000 brands of common medicines could be slashed in price, some by as much as 50%, from next year, Minister for Health Sussan Ley says under the Government’s proposed PBS package.

Minister Ley yesterday revealed the extent of the benefits to be brought about by the Abbott Government’s proposed changes to the pricing of generic medicines if it passes the Senate this week as part of the broader reform package.

The changes are expected to see over 2000 brands of about 170 of Australia’s most common medicines instantly drop by as much as 50% or more from October 2016 when compared with their current price (as at June 2015), with hundreds more to follow over the next five years.

Ms Ley says this included seven of Australia’s most common medicines for cholesterol, heart conditions, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression and bipolar, which alone treat three million patients between them and could save customers upwards of $10 and $20 per script as a result.

“In just over 12 months’ time patients could be seeing the price of their everyday medications fall by as much as $60 to $250 per drug per year if our proposed reform package passes the Senate this week,” Ms Ley says.

“With a growing burden of chronic disease in Australia many patients now take multiple medications at once, meaning even greater savings as high as $500 or more annually.”

She used the example of a patient with a heart condition and signs of osteoporosis who could be concurrently using:

  • Rosuvastatin to lower cholesterol (est. $202.32 annual save);
  • Telmisartan to lower high blood pressure & risk of heart attack (est. $134.76 annual save);
  • Clopidogrel to manage general heart problems (est. $63.84 annual save); and
  • Risedronate to manage osteoporosis (est. $268.32 annual save).

Total annual saving to the patient would be $669.24 (saves based on June 2015 price vs Oct 2016 price), she says.

Ms Ley says this is on top of other proposed measures such as the ability for pharmacists to discount the patient co-payment by $1, and shows the importance of the Senate voting in favour of the Government’s proposed medicines reform package as a whole.

“It also highlights the importance of this balanced reform package for the future health of Australians, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and our nation,” she says.

Ms Ley says the generics measure is a cornerstone of the Abbott Government’s broader PBS Access and Sustainability Reform Package.

The package is also expected to save taxpayers $2 billion over five years via price disclosure.

Savings from the measure are expected to contribute about a third ($2 billion) of the Abbott Government’s PBS reform package’s total $6.6 billion in proposed efficiencies.

Ms Ley says it is essential government investment in existing medicines is as efficient as possible to ensure the Government can afford to list new expensive medicines now and in the future.

“The Abbott Government has a proven track record of subsidising new medicines quickly with almost $3 billion worth of drug listings added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme since we came to office,” Minister Ley says.

“In fact, we have already listed double the number of drugs compared to Labor’s last term in office in half the time.

“However, meeting community expectations that new drugs will be listed quickly also comes at a significant cost, with taxpayers expected to invest $50 billion making medicines more affordable for patients over the next five years alone.

“That’s why the Abbott Government has proposed a balanced plan for reform that will ensure spending on existing medicines is as efficient as possible so we can fund new drugs as well.”

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