Medicines group calls for downscheduling


A widespread switch from prescription to OTC medicines is best for the healthcare system and consumers, says ASMI in its 2017 pre-budget submission

The Australian Self-Medication Industry, which released its submission on Tuesday, provides three key recommendations:

  1. Development of a ‘switch’ agenda, leading to further downscheduling of medicines from prescription to OTC, with mandatory consultation with a pharmacist.
  2. Reduced restrictions on direct-to-consumer communications for Pharmacist Only (S3) medicines.
  3. Introduction of data/market exclusivity mechanisms “to stimulate research and innovation”.

ASMI argues that its recommendations “will provide consumers with better access to information and medicines to self-manage their health, provide savings for the national healthcare system, and drive innovation, research and growth in the Australian healthcare products industry”.

“We are pushing for increasing access to medicines, and a switch from prescription to pharmacy-only medicines,” explains ASMI CEO Deon Schoombie.

“The reason is that we see pharmacists as primary healthcare deliverers and we are interested in expanding their role. It’s also about empowering patients and taking the burden off GPs,” he tells AJP.

“Obviously when medicines are switched from prescription-only to non-prescription, they also come off the PBS, which saves money for the government too,” Mr Schoombie adds.

He says there would need to be a strong regulatory framework to achieve the change, as well as the removal of obstacles such as restrictions on S3 advertising.

Medicines Australia has also released its federal budget submission, with a focus on nurturing research talent; improved data measurement processes; investment into clinical trials and innovation; an extension of patent life for medicines, and reduced taxes.

“Better measurement, reporting and evaluation of health expenditure, the adoption of digital health solutions, the timely provision of life-saving medicines and vaccines and reduced regulatory delays are all solutions that can help our health system operate as efficiently as possible,” says Medicines Australia CEO Milton Catelin, in his introduction to the submission.

“Australia’s healthcare system has gone through a period of rapid change. The Australian Government is being confronted by significant budgetary pressures that must be addressed over the long term.

“For Australia’s medicines industry to thrive – as one that will drive economic success by encouraging innovation – responding to patients’ needs and ensuring the sustainability of our health system is crucial,” says Mr Catelin.

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