The Government has announced that new PBS listings for life-saving and life-changing medicines are released from October onwards, which may impact up to 500,000 Australians.
Cheaper Medicine for Australians
Price reductions for common scripts and new medicines have been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) including medicines to treat lung cancer, lymphoblastic and acute leukaemia, and nausea associated with chemotherapy.
A media release from the Minister of Health announced that around 500,000 Australians will have access to cheaper medicines beginning from October 1, with price reductions for common scripts and new medicines in some cases saving over $100,000 per patient.
Treatments for seizures or nerve pain and high cholesterol levels are also listed on the PBS.
The extended PBS listings from October onwards will include:
Extended PBS listings. Source: Health.Gov
According to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt’s interview with Sunrise, the new inclusions will help save over $100,000 each year for some patients. For example, Avastin, treating stage four lung cancer, would have cost $189,000 without this new inclusion. It will now help over 750 patients for far less than what it originally cost.
Apotex, medicine treating chemotherapy-induced nausea, will also benefit more than 7000 patients from the inclusion. Ezetimibe, for high cholesterol, and Pregabalin for nerve pain, are also among the common drugs listed that will see their prices largely decrease. Ezetimibe for example, will help over 300,000 Australians save up to $6 saving per script.
This could overall generate a difference to the cost of living, with up to $60 – $70 in savings a year.
This can be seen as a great effort from the Government to make medicines more affordable in Australia. A report in 2017 by the Grattan Institute already found that Australian drugs can cost 3.7 times more than the global benchmark. Particularly, Australia’s prices remain almost twice those of the UK, and 3.1 times higher than New Zealand’s.
The Government is helping to reduce the price on 175 different medicines, with savings of up to $390 million across multiple areas and over 500,000 patients may benefit from them. This initiative shows the Government’s commitment that Australians can have access to affordable medicines when they need to.
Additionally, from 1 January 2020, pensioners and concession card holders will enjoy a lower threshold to receive free or discounted medicines. Their threshold will be reduced by 12 scripts and that of non-concession card holders will have the equivalent of 2 scripts.
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