Cabinet lottery for new PBS medicines continues

The process for listing new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has become overtly politicised, following the Government’s announcement today that it would become harder to list new medicines if the Federal Opposition continued to oppose Government health policy.

Medicines Australia’s acting chief executive Andrew Bruce said while the Government had listed some new medicines today, others continued to be deferred by Cabinet despite being recommended by the Government’s own expert advisory committee.

“The Cabinet lottery must end now,” Mr Bruce said.

“There are no apparent criteria to determine which medicines the Cabinet will approve. It has become a fickle and capricious process.

“The Government is bringing politics into clinical decisions where people’s health, and indeed their lives are at stake.

“The Government said today that the future listing of new medicines on the PBS would become contingent on the Federal Opposition supporting Government health policies such as the private health insurance rebate and the chronic disease dental scheme.

“That is unconscionable. The PBS was always meant to be about equitable access to medicines for all Australians. It is now being used as a political football and patients are being caught in the middle.

“The PBS should not be held to ransom by Government’s short-term political agenda.

“The Government’s own expert committee has rigorously evaluated these medicines and found that the health and economic benefits of making them available on the PBS outweigh the costs.

“Cabinet’s decision will mean many patients can’t afford the medicines they need. It’s putting medicines out of reach for many ordinary Australians and threatens to take us into a two-tiered health system.

“It’s bad policy. Australia shouldn’t be a country where we can’t afford to provide medicines for sick people.

“Medicines Australia welcomes the PBS listing for the medicines that were announced today, but we urge Government to end the Cabinet lottery and return to the process of bringing new medicines onto the PBS that has served Australian patients well for decades.”


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