PBS growth is slowest for 15 years, industry told

New Medicare Australia data shows that expenditure on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is growing more slowly than at any time in the last 15 years, Medicines Australia chairman Will Delaat told an industry conference on the Gold Coast today.

Mr Delaat used his annual State of the Industry Symposium address at the APP conference to explode the myth that public expenditure on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is growing too quickly.

“The Commonwealth Treasury’s own forecasts from last year’s Budget suggest the PBS will grow at only 2.1 per cent per annum in real terms over the next four years,” Mr Delaat told the conference.

“In fact according to the latest Medicare Australia data in the year to January, the PBS grew at a meagre 1.3 per cent in nominal terms, even less after adjusting for inflation.

“This is hardly the picture of a health expenditure program growing out of control.

“PBS expenditure growth is at its lowest for more than 15 years. For a major healthcare program to achieve such minimal growth, while still providing universal access to the latest medicines is quite an extraordinary achievement.

“Treasury directly attributes the lower than expected growth over the forward estimates period to savings realised in the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement and pricing reforms contained in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and Medicines Australia.”

Mr Delaat said that while Treasury expects the PBS to grow at just 2.1 per cent per annum over the forward estimates, it expects the Commonwealth’s total health budget to grow by 9.3 per cent per annum in real terms and Medicare expenses to grow by 3.3 per cent per annum.

“Now that the PBS genie is finally in the bottle we believe it is time to concentrate on improving access to medicines for Australian patients who need them,” Mr Delaat said.

The Australian Government spends less on medicines as a proportion of GDP than the OECD average.


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