New Government figures show PBS growing at less than inflation

The Government’s budgetary concerns over the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme have been blown out of the water by the Government’s own figures.

The latest Medicare Australia data released yesterday shows that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is growing at less than the rate of inflation.

According to Medicare, the PBS grew by 2.8 per cent in the year to March 2011. This compares with the latest inflation figure of 3.3 per cent, also released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in the Consumer Price Index for the year to March 2011.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the latest data confirmed that PBS spending was under control and was not presenting the Government with any fiscal challenge.

“This data shows the PBS is actually going backwards in real terms,” Dr Shaw said.

“Whatever concerns the Government has about health expenditure, the PBS is one area of spending that it knows is being well contained.

“Given the slow growth of the PBS, the Government should reverse its decision not to list new medicines on the PBS.

“The irony is that just as the Government is restricting Australians’ access to new medicines, Government spending on the PBS is actually falling in real terms.

“The argument that PBS expenditure needs to be micro-managed by Cabinet just does not stack up against the latest available evidence.

“If anything, the fact that Government support for Australian patients is falling at the same time as the Government is seeking to further restrict Australians’ access to medicines should be a concern for all Australians.

“Medicines Australia has negotiated a good framework for managing the PBS with the Government in the form of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Commonwealth last year.

“This latest data shows that this framework is working effectively.”


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