Reduced GP prescribing creates PBS headroom

The decline in the rate of GP prescribing is creating financial ‘headroom’ for the Australian Government to list innovative new medicines on the PBS, Medicines Australia chief executive Ian Chalmers said today.

Mr Chalmers was responding to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, General Practice Activity in Australia 2006–07, which identified a 10 per cent decrease over the past 10 years in the number of prescriptions written by GPs.

Mr Chalmers said reduced GP prescribing is reflected in the slowing growth rate of the PBS.

“The steady decline in GP prescribing also points to continual improvement in the quality use of medicines. This contributes to more efficient usage of PBS funding and is creating headroom for future investment in innovative new medicines currently under development,” he said.

Mr Chalmers said the reduced GP prescribing rates may indicate greater awareness among doctors of how medicines should best be used.

“This data signifies that GPs are exercising careful consideration in the way they use medicines, which is very good news for patients,” Mr Chalmers said.

“One of the benefits of the many important interactions between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals is the provision of information to doctors about how new medicines best work and how they should be prescribed.

“Medicines can be dangerous if they are used improperly, or in circumstances in which they are not appropriate. That is why Medicines Australia strongly supports the National Strategy for the Quality Use of Medicines.”

Mr Chalmers also said he was encouraged by the report’s finding that newly developed combination medicines and vaccines have contributed to the reduction in the number of GP prescriptions.

“The AHWI report identifies the increasing number of combination products available to patients on the PBS as one of the reasons behind lower prescribing rates,” he said.

“Through the research and development of combination medicines, the innovative pharmaceuticals industry has significantly reduced the number of products that many patients will require for the treatment of certain illnesses.

“The development of combination medicines has realised considerable savings for Australian patients and the Australian government and, most importantly, contributed to better health outcomes.”


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