One step forward, one step back on deferral of PBS listings

Medicines Australia has been informed by the Federal Government that the moratorium on Cabinet deferrals of the listing of some new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has been extended to June 2014.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said while the extension of the moratorium was positive, it did not provide a lasting solution to a policy issue that has been criticised by consumer groups across Australia as well as industry, doctors, academics and the media.

“This move represents a step forward, but it’s disappointing that the Government hasn’t taken the opportunity to put this issue to bed,” Dr Shaw said.

“Questions still remain. There is still no commitment from the Government to abandon deferring medicines for PBS listing deemed cost-effective by an expert evaluation committee.

“This moratorium applies only to medicines that will cost the PBS less than $10 million a year. Uncertainty remains for the listing of other medicines on to the PBS.

“Australia is a country that can afford medicines for sick people and should be giving timely access to medicines a very high priority. Deferrals mean patients are denied access to the medicines they need. The policy also creates uncertainty for industry and makes it harder for companies to bring new medicines to Australia, medicines that in many cases are already available and subsidised in other advanced economies.

“The MoU between Medicines Australia and the Government will deliver $1.9 billion in PBS savings. While we are prepared to continue dialogue with Government ahead of the 2013-14 Federal Budget, we expect the Government to keep its commitment under the MoU.

“The industry has always been ready to talk about a sustainable plan for the PBS, but it needs to be done with a long term perspective.

“We also welcome the support of the Australian Greens and the Coalition, who have committed to reverse the deferrals policy and return to the process of accepting the expert advice of the PBAC.

“It is a system that has served Australian patients well for many years.”


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