Senate report slams Cabinet PBS deferrals

A Senate Committee report tabled in Parliament today strongly criticising the Government’s management of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme reflects grave community concerns, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said today.

The Senate Finance and Administration References Committee report on Government Administration of the PBS condemned Federal Cabinet’s decision to defer the listing of new medicines on the PBS.

Dr Shaw said the Committee was sending the Government a clear signal that Cabinet should not interfere with the process of listing new PBS medicines.

“It is extraordinary that apart from the Department of Health, none of the 65 submissions to the inquiry supported the Government’s action on this issue,” Dr Shaw said.

“Patients don’t support it, doctors don’t support it, the broader community doesn’t support it and industry doesn’t support it.

“The community has told the Committee unequivocally that it wants a return to the previous system of listing new medicines on the PBS that has served Australians so well for decades. That sentiment is reflected in the Committee’s report.

“Medicines Australia also welcomes the recommendation that the Government adhere to the intent of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with industry in 2010.”

The report warned that the politicisation of the PBS listing process risked creating two separate classes of people: “those who have access to a suitable medicine that is subsidised and those who do not.”

Dr Shaw said the Committee clearly acknowledged that the Government’s policy on the PBS was threatening to take Australia into a two-tier health system.

“Next week marks six months to the day since Government announced it was deferring the listing of new medicines. Every day that goes by is another day that many Australian patients are being denied access to medicines they need.

“I congratulate the Committee on its excellent report and thank the members of the Committee for the hard work they have undertaken in preparing it.

“Medicines Australia welcomes the Committee’s recommendations and strongly urges the Government to act on them.”


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