Latest PBS cuts just the beginning, Minister believes
A “skyrocketing” number of medicines experiencing a reduction in their price in the April round of PBS cuts is only the beginning, Health Minister Sussan Ley says.
Over the weekend, Ms Ley announced that the price of around 400 medicines will fall as a result of the 1 April round of PBS reforms that are being funded by the medicines supply sector, and which took effect on 1 April.
“In an Australian first, the price of a large proportion of expensive combination medicines and patent-protected drugs listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will drop this weekend, in addition to the annual April changes,” she said.
“This will see the total number of medicines taking a price reduction skyrocket to over 400 this weekend, more than quadruple the usual number at this time of year”.
Over the five years from 2015 to 2020, these reforms will result in the Federal Government saving around $17 billion in medicine costs to the benefit of taxpayers and individual patients.
“This weekend Australians will see many common medications reduce in price for consumers by as much as $20 per script – some for the first time ever – as part of our commitment to making medicines more affordable and accessible for Australians,” said the minister, pictured watching Guild national president George Tambassis sign the 6CPA last year.
“With one-in-five Australians now living everyday with multiple chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, eye disease and depression, this could save patients as much as $500 per year.
She also claimed there had been “strong take up of competition reforms introduced as part of PBS package allowing pharmacists to discount scripts by up to $1”.
This reiterated her claim at APP 2016 last month that around 70% of pharmacies had offered the discount at least once.
The controversial discount and the other measures were all part of the government’s Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme reform package, passage of which was tied to the signing of the 6CPA.
Commenting on the latest cuts, a joint statement issued by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, in alliance with the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association and the National Pharmaceutical Services Association said: “While these reforms impose a considerable burden on the medicines supply sector, they are ensuring that the PBS remains fiscally affordable and sustainable into the future.
“At a time when the sustainability of Australia’s health system is headlining public debate, it needs to be acknowledged that the contribution of the medicines supply sector in delivering this ground-breaking PBS reform stands out like a beacon for the wider health sector.
However speaking to industry newsletter Pharma Dispatch, NPSA chair Mark Hooper says there is a real risk that PBS reform could make wholesaling so unattractive companies “just won’t want to do it”
Click here for the full list of 1 April PBS cuts