Questions to start early on 1 Oct price cuts

PBS cuts: scissors cutting $20 note

The Health Minister’s early announcement regarding 1 October price cuts means customers may start asking questions already, says Pharmacy Guild

Yesterday Sussan Ley announced that more than 2000 medicine brands will drop in price from next month, some by as much as 50% or more, in what she describes as a “win-win for consumers and taxpayers”.

One in three PBS medicines will be cheaper for some consumers by up to $20 per script per medicine.

“The Turnbull Government is continuing to deliver the largest ever reductions in the price of medicines for consumers across the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” Ms Ley says.

“Millions of Australians will benefit from these innovative reforms, with some people suffering multiple chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and gastric reflux set to save as much as $400 per year on their medicine scripts.

“This announcement will also help ease cost pressures on a number of long-standing medicines on the PBS treating life-threatening diseases such as breast, prostate and ovarian cancer,” she says.

For example, a non-concessional patient with diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and gastric reflux who is currently taking:

  • metformin for type 2 diabetes 500mg tablet twice daily;
  • pantoprazole for gastric reflux 40mg tablet daily;
  • alendronate 70 mg + colecalciferol 140 microgram tablet for osteoporosis (as per dosing instructions); and
  • enalapril with hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure 20 mg/6 mg tablet daily;

…will save up to $34.19 per month on scripts, which equates to a yearly reduction of $410.28.

More than 80% of the 2000+ medicines brands will see a direct saving to some consumers, she says, while the remaining 20% (those priced above the general PBS copayment) will see a saving to taxpayers.

The Guild sent a message to its members this morning advising of the early announcement and its likely outcomes in pharmacy.

The Guild says it will provide its members with an updated analysis of the likely impact in the next few days.

“With the Minister making this early announcement of the 1 October price reductions, it is likely that pharmacies may be asked about them by patients,” the Guild told members.

“If patients do ask, it will be important for staff to let them know that these price cuts take effect on 1 October (rather than immediately) and that any reductions in out-of-pocket costs are likely to be restricted to those General patients who purchase PBS medicines that are priced below the General co-payment.”

In relation to stock management in the lead up to 1 October, it advised its members to:

  • review the list available on the Guild website and identify the reductions that will impact their pharmacy;
  • discuss with their wholesaler/supplier about pre-1 October ordering and pricing arrangements for items scheduled for a reduction;
  • carefully manage stock holdings of affected products; and
  • ensure dispensary staff are aware of the changes and the pharmacy’s stock management processes.

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  1. David George

    October 1st this year falls on a Saturday. I have a stock delivery available on Friday night and the next one is not due until Monday night. This means that by Friday I have to have enough stock to last me 3 days through the weekend and Monday. So I (well my boss) has to pay for this stock at the September price, but is only able to receive payment at the lower October price. This is a rather unfair impost in a system that is already quite difficult to manage well.

  2. Simon O'Halloran

    Let’s hope all these ‘savings’ will mean some fast-tracking of 6CPA programs to offset the substantial impact to the bottom line. Not just maintaining a cap on services (eg. Medscheck and HMR) and more bureaucratic red tape getting in the way of patient care. I’d much prefer to be focusing my attention on assisting my patients than playing a tightrope act of dispensary stock control.

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