Taxpayers to get fairer deal on PBS medicine prices

Taxpayers will get a fairer deal on the price Government pays for medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme if new legislation for the PBS is passed, Medicines Australia Chief Executive Dr Brendan Shaw told the Medicare Conference in Sydney today.

The National Health Amendment (PBS) Bill will ensure the price the Government pays for a PBS medicine reflects the price at which it is sold to pharmacists.

“The PBS has been blind to the real price of medicines,” Dr Shaw said.

“The new reforms to mandate disclosure of the price at which companies are selling to pharmacists will inform the Government of the true market price and allow it to adjust downwards the price it pays.

“The problem now is that disclosure is often optional. This makes it difficult for the Government to drive a more efficient PBS.

“Government is paying overblown prices for older, off-patent medicines.

“Greater transparency and competition needs to be promoted in the off-patent medicines market.

“If the PBS legislation is not passed by the Parliament these arrangements will continue.

“Patients will also miss out on anticipated price cuts. We can already see the benefit of price disclosure. The antibiotic Vancomycin for example cost $33.30 prior to price disclosure. Post-price disclosure the price is $12.19. That’s a saving of $21.11 that goes back to the patient.

“If the legislation is passed, ordinary Australians will save substantially at the pharmacy counter because price cuts will lead to cheaper scripts.

“The cost of commonly prescribed medicines to treat everyday conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, asthma, depression and diabetes will fall. That is a big saving for Australian consumers.

“Australia has low prices for innovative, new medicines by international standards but the prices of old, off-patent medicines have been high.

“While in markets like the US and the UK typically the price of a medicine drops substantially after patent expiry and the entry of generics, historically in Australia this did not happen, or did not happen to anywhere near the extent as in other countries.”

A copy of Dr Shaw’s speech is available at


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