Affordable medicines just the tip of the iceberg for equitable access for all Australians

2 May 2022: Medicines Australia welcomes the commitments from both major parties to cut costs to medical scripts by lowering the PBS co-payment.

The Coalition on Saturday announced that, if elected, it would lower the Maximum Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payment from $42.50 to $32.50. On Sunday, Labor said, if elected, it would lower the co-payment even further to $30.00.

Medicines Australia CEO, Elizabeth de Somer, said cuts to the PBS co-payment would help many Australians who are feeling the pressures of the cost of living, but it is just the tip of the iceberg for improving equitable access to medicines.

“Every Australian should have affordable and fast access to new and innovative medicines, vaccines, and treatments.

“Bipartisan support for lowering the PBS co-payment shows a commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

“While these commitments will help patients access existing medicines listed on the PBS, thousands of Australian patients are still waiting for new and innovative medicines to become available.

“The average time for a cancer treatment to be listed on the PBS is nearly 500 days, despite it being approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and a majority of those treatments already available in other countries.

“Many patients who are waiting for innovative treatments do not have the luxury of time.

Ms de Somer said this weekend’s announcements and bipartisan approach bodes well if it is replicated in other key areas of health system reform to improve time to access medicines.

“Patients are the winners when the major parties head in the right direction on health policy,” Ms de Somer said.

“Good health policy comes from genuine consultation with key stakeholders and heeding the voice of health consumers – the patients.

“Medicines Australia looks forward to working with the next Government on major reforms such as the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Review and the ongoing review of the National Medicines Policy (NMP).

“These vital processes will help strengthen the Australian health system to make sure all Australians have fast access to new and innovative medicines as soon as they are approved and safe.

“They will also prepare us to respond to future health crises, such as inevitable pandemics.

“We hope the spirit of bipartisanship on health policy and health reform extends beyond election day,” Ms de Somer said.

Medicines Australia will closely examine the health platforms of the major parties to assess the impacts on patients and members.


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