Spending decline

The impact of price disclosure has been again confirmed by Department of Health data forecasting falling PBS expenditure  

The latest figures reveal Government spending on the PBS is forecast to fall by $800 million in 2016-17. According to the Department, government spending on the PBS of $11.2 billion in 2015-16 will fall to $10.4 billion in the following financial year.

The data was released among department responses to questions taken on notice at the Senate Supplementary Estimates hearing are due on Friday 2 December 2016.

Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale had requested whole-of-government health-related estimates data.

PBS spending is forecast to rise in subsequent years, to $10.6 billion in 2017-18, $10.9 billion in 2018-19 and $11.13 billion in 2019-20.

However, PBS spending as a percentage of total spending on health is expected to drop to just over 11% by 2019-20, from 13% in 2015-16.

The new figures have been welcomed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, who said “the sustainability of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has been highlighted by the release of [the] new figures”.

Guild executive director David Quilty, said: ‘These figures again confirm the sustainability of the PBS, and the ongoing significant savings to the Budget being delivered through PBS Reforms.

“PBS expenditure through community pharmacy is the most sustainable part of the health system with growth rates a fraction of the MBS and public hospitals, in spite of the ongoing listing of new high cost medicines,” he said.

“This fiscal sustainability is a direct result of the Government’s ongoing PBS reforms to which community pharmacies and the broader medicines sector have contributed.”

According to industry newsletter Pharma Dispatch the decline after 2015-16 could be reflective of slowing utilisation of new hepatitis C treatments.

The department also revealed that, in 2015-16 general patients filled an average 8.9 scripts, while concessional patients filled an average 28.7 scripts.

This was in response to a question from Senator Murray Watt (ALP, Qld) asking for an average of how many PBS prescriptions general and concession patients filled each year.

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