Number of new PBS medicines hits 20-year low

The number of new medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in 2011-12 was the lowest for 20 years, according to a ground-breaking report released today by the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies.

The Impact of Further PBS Reforms study also found that reforms to the PBS agreed between the Commonwealth and Medicines Australia over the last decade will deliver up to $18 billion in savings.

The report further concludes:

  • Patients’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription medicines have fallen by an average 6 per cent as a result of the PBS reforms agreed between the Government and the medicines industry.
  • PBS spending over the next seven years is likely to be constrained due to the reforms and savings from medicines coming off-patent, assuring the sustainability of the PBS to at least 2018.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the analysis quantifies for the first time the magnitude of savings flowing from reforms to the PBS in the eight years to 2017-18.

“These savings were intended to fund new medicines on the PBS, but this report shows that the number of new PBS medicines listed last year was the lowest in 20 years,” Dr Shaw said.

“That’s very alarming because it means many patients who need new treatments aren’t getting access to them. Consumers expect better than that. Australia should be a country that can afford new medicines for patients.

“This decline is not due to any fall in the number of new therapies being proposed by companies. It has been due to things like higher rejection rates at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and delays in the listing process for new medicines.

“The real challenge now is to ensure these multi-billion dollar savings are used to get new therapies to patients.

“The rationale behind PBS reforms with successive governments was to drive savings in the off-patent market, and use those savings to list new medicines. Those savings have been delivered; the issue now is ensuring new medicines can be listed.

“This report and the Government’s own Budget last week; both confirm that PBS reforms implemented over the last decade are driving substantial savings for government and consumers.”

The Impact of further PBS reforms was commissioned by Medicines Australia and is available here


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