No case for further cuts to PBS, conference told

The biggest round of price cuts in the history of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, coupled with historically low spending growth have removed any justification for further PBS cuts in the Federal Budget, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw told an industry conference today.

Speaking at the Future of the PBS Conference in Sydney, Dr Shaw said the MoU between the Government and Medicines Australia was expected to deliver more than $1.9 billion in savings to the Budget bottom line.

“In terms of this year’s upcoming Budget and how the PBS will feature in that, our message is actually pretty simple – leave it alone,” Dr Shaw told the conference.

“Whatever measure you use, there’s no case for further savings measures.

“Whether it’s historically low growth in PBS spending, the fact that the PBS is more or less falling after adjusting for inflation, low or falling numbers of PBS prescriptions, or the level of PBS spending in Australia relative to other reimbursement schemes internationally.

“Whatever measure you use, it is virtually impossible to make the case that the PBS is growing too much or, in fact, growing at all.

“There is no need to have any PBS savings measures in the 2012 Budget.

“Literally less than two weeks ago we saw the biggest price cuts in the history of the PBS as a result of the MoU between the Government and Medicines Australia.

“That agreement has delivered massive savings for the Government and for patients.

“And we fully expect there will be more price cuts from the MoU in the future over and above the $1.9 billion savings projected by the Government.

“The bottom line is, it would be a work of fictional fantasy writing to rival Alice in Wonderland for anyone to argue that we have a fiscal problem when it comes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

“Our message is: you don’t need to muck with the PBS.

“Government policy is actually working well in keeping the PBS manageable while, by and large, providing Australians with access to the medicines they need.”

Dr Shaw also urged the Government to complete its review into anti-coagulant medicines as soon as possible and to ensure the new R&D tax credit remains eligible for medicines companies.


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