Cabinet decisions hit patients’ hip pockets

Federal Government’s decision to block the listing of eight new medicines and vaccines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will hit patients’ hip pockets, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said today.

The decision followed a recommendation from the Government’s own clinical and health economics expert committee, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, that the medicines and vaccines should be subsidised on the PBS.

Dr Shaw said patients suffering from conditions such as schizophrenia, chronic disabling pain, lung disease and blood clots will have to pay up to $100 per month, instead of the PBS co-payment of $34.20.

“This will hit ordinary Australians where it hurts – at the hip pocket,” Dr Shaw said.

“The panel of expert clinicians and health economists have advised the Government that listing these medicines on the PBS represents value for money for the Government.

“The Government has listened to the advice of its own experts and decided not to take that advice. I think patients and the companies who have developed these medicines are owed a proper explanation.

“We should be a country that can afford to pay for the medicines that sick people need.

“Historically, medicines that carry a cost to Government of more than $10 million a year are reviewed by Cabinet. However, Cabinet has now intervened on the listing of medicines that fall well below that threshold.

“The introduction of an extra layer of bureaucracy is extremely alarming because it may translate to delays in patients getting access to medicines they need.

“This is the first time Cabinet has considered a positive recommendation by its own clinical and health economics experts and not accepted that recommendation.

“While we welcome the listing of some new medicines, the decision not to list others is extremely disappointing.”

The medicines and vaccines recommended for PBS listing by the PBAC and deferred by Cabinet are: Botox (severe sweating), Duodart (enlarged prostate), Invega sustenna (schizophrenia), Targin (chronic disabling pain), Symbicort (lung disease), Fragmin (blood clots), Synarel (IVF treatment) and Prevenar 13 catch-up (pneumococcal vaccine).


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