16 November 2006
The Government is making changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to give Australians continued access to new and expensive medicines while ensuring the PBS remains economically sustainable into the future.
These changes should make the PBS an even stronger system with the government paying less for certain medicines without increasing the cost to patients. In fact, for some medicines, patients should also pay less.
Over the next few years, Australia will move to a system where the Government gets better value for many medicines that are coming off-patent. There will be a series of price reductions for these medicines and, over time, the price the government pays will move closer to the actual price at which these medicines are being supplied.
Patients will continue to have a choice of medicines and to pay only the standard co payments for a PBS script (currently [at 16 Nov 2006] $4.70 per script for a concession cardholder and $29.50 a script for others). There should be more medicines that cost less than $29.50, which will mean cheaper prices to some patients.
A support package will help pharmacy to adjust to the new arrangements. The package includes increased payments for dispensing medicines plus incentives to take-up electronic health systems and to dispense medicines with no additional charges for patients.
It will be simpler for doctors to prescribe certain medicines. From July next year, around 200 medicines that treat long-term conditions (such as diabetes or osteoporosis) will be authorised by the doctor alone without a phone call to Medicare Australia.
These changes will save more than $580 million over the next four years, growing to $3 billion over the next 10 years. As a result, the PBS should be well positioned to meet future demand for new and expensive medicines and patients will continue to have access to these medicines at a price they can afford.