Accessing medicines is extremely important, and predominantly most medicines are made available through the rigorous process of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) evaluation. It is also important to note that patients can access innovative medicines through clinical trials, patient access / early access programs (e.g. a company can provide the drug through a controlled program prior to PBS listing) and in some cases compassionate access if the drug is TGA approved but not listed on the PBS. Each individual company will have their own programs, so it is best to check with them regarding a specific drug if you have questions.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, known as the PBS, is the Australian Government’s program to make medicines affordable. Medicines on the PBS are subsidised so that patients are only required to pay a co-payment (full or concessional) and not the full price of the medicine.
Every medicine listed on the PBS goes through a rigorous evaluation process to determine that the drug is cost-effective to be used for the patient population it is intended to be used in.
The evaluation committee is know as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). During the evaluation process, patients and consumers are encourage to provide their real life experience with the drug and/or the disease area that the new drug is being evaluated for. (For more details see section ‘Patient Voice Initiative’).
Broadening the Evidence Report – Enhancing patient engagement in health technology assessment of medicines in Australia (with special consideration of oncology medicines).
The PBS in Australia – an explainer on system components