Cabinet’s PBS deferrals mean patients miss out

Federal Cabinet’s decision to defer the listing of new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme means ordinary Australians are missing out on access to new medical treatments, Medicines Australia has told a Senate inquiry into the Government’s administration of the PBS.

Medicines Australia’s submission to the inquiry said Cabinet’s decision shows “the Australian Government is moving towards a two-tier health system”.

“[It] perpetuates a situation where high-income patients can afford better treatments for things like schizophrenia, chronic pain associated with cancer, debilitating excessive sweating and use of combination products, whereas people on lower incomes have to make do.

“The future access of Australians to medicines is being transformed into a political lottery.”

The Government announced in February that it had blocked the listing of eight new medicines, despite recommendations by its own expert advisory committee that the medicines were value for money and should be made available to patients.

The submission notes that 42 per cent of Medicines Australia member companies have said that in light of the Federal Government’s decision, they were considering delaying brining new medicines to Australia.

“A number were seriously considering delaying various new medicines in the areas of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and mental health,” the submission said.

“The decision to require Cabinet to approve all new PBS listings and defer the listing of medicines is a bad policy decision.

“Whilst it clearly has an adverse impact on industry, ultimately it is Australians that miss out on access to new medical treatment in the future as a result of the uncertainty created by the Australian Government.”

The submission added: “The Government’s deferrals have not only placed a clinical burden on patients, but a financial burden as well. It was apparent from the initial deferral announcement that the Australian Government was prepared to transfer the cost of treatment to patients.”

Medicines Australia’s submission is available here (Please follow link)


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