Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2013 Contents 18 Australian Pharmacist June 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
A sustainable bright spot
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has
provided a sustainable bright spot for
the Federal Government the Medicines
Partnership of Australia (MPA) says.
In a post budget statement the MPA said
that: 'the Budget provided confirmation
of the significant impact that PBS price
reforms are having on PBS expenditure,
delivering the Government an additional
$2.5 billion saving over four years.'
It claimed that none of this expenditure
write-down came from new savings
measures -- most is delivered by the existing
program of price disclosure which reduces
the prices the government and consumers
pay for off-patent medicines.
'These Budget figures dispel once and
for all the poorly researched reports that
have been released over recent months
wrongly claiming that there has been a lack
of real reform to bring PBS expenditure
'Expenditure on pharmaceuticals as a
percentage of GDP is now expected to
decline every year between 2012-13 and
2016-17. The pharmaceutical and pharmacy
sectors are doing their bit to maintain the
affordability of the PBS.
'The good news on the PBS is outlined
in the Medicines Partnership of Australia
PBS Scorecard (available at www.
The Budget papers reveal that the
Commonwealth's savings from price
disclosure will increase from $296 million
in 2013-14 to a massive $1.1 billion
a year in 2016-17, underpinning the
sustainability of the subsidised medicine
scheme. The aggregate savings from
price disclosure, including the MOU with
Medicines Australia, are now estimated
to reach $4 billion over the forward
Currently, the real rate of growth in
pharmaceutical benefits expenditure is
only 2% a year, despite Australia's ageing
population, and an estimated 6% annual
growth in PBS volumes. This rate of growth
is significantly lower than the overall health
system and other major health expenditure
drivers such as the Medical Benefits
Schedule and public hospitals.
The Budget revealed that for the second
year in a row, the Government has
significantly lowered its own estimates of
the likely future costs of the PBS.
For example, the Government is now
estimating that pharmaceutical benefits
and services costs will be at least $1 billion
a year less than it estimated only two
The Medicines Partnership of Australia
includes: Medicines Australia, The
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia,
the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the
Generic Medicines Industry Association,
the Australian Self-Medication Industry
and the National Pharmaceutical
A legitimate role
The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
has urged more balanced public debate on
complementary medicines (CM).
ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director,
Steve Scarff, said: 'from an industry perspective,
ASMI is intent on pursuing a legitimate role
for CMs in the healthcare system and does not
condone any level of non-compliance.
'While we welcome public discussion on CMs,
we feel recent media coverage omitted an
important point on the state of compliance for
CMs in Australia.'
His comments came after the article, War of
words on potions and pills continues, in the
Sydney Morning Herald on 12 May.
He said, 'The statement that 90% of CM products
that were reviewed in 2008 by the Therapeutic
Goods Administration (TGA) failed to comply
does not take into account the varying
nature of non-compliance, nor the small and
unrepresentative sample size -- a substantial
limitation highlighted by the Australian National
Audit Office in its 2011--12 report.1
'Alongside Canada, Australia has one of the
world's most advanced regulatory systems for
CMs. The problem is not with the regulatory
system, but rather the lack of force applied by
the TGA to non-compliant sponsors.'
Currently, two-thirds of Australians use
CMs regularly to optimise their health
and prevent illness.1 With the CM sector
currently undergoing significant reform,
ASMI is advocating that the following issues
• There needs to be a high level of confidence,
rigour and transparency around the way that
CMs are marketed, including the claims that
are made about individual products.
• While industry has its part to play in ensuring
compliance, the TGA must enforce tougher
penalties and sanctions to deter those
sponsors whose non-compliance brings the
industry into disrepute.
• There needs to be consistency and
predictability in the process of evaluation.
• ASMI advocates for minimum effective
regulation which is commensurate with
risk, listable medicines being at the lower
end of the risk spectrum, as well as effective
measures to ensure compliance.
• Increased investment in research (via data
protection) will further support the growing
evidence-base for CMs.
1. Australian National Audit Office Report No. 3 2011--12. Therapeutic
Goods Regulation: L Complementary Medicines.
Government Pharmaceutical Benefits as a % of GDP
(all expenditure, including supply through hospitals)
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