Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist June 2014 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Focus on the
By Andrew Daniels
The Government should quietly
put its Commission of Audit report
it to one side and focus on what’s
happening in the real world when
it comes to the PBS according to
Medicines Australia (MA)
At the Future of
(PBS) Summit on
6 May, MA Chief
to recommendations in the Federal
Government’s Commission of Audit
Report, Towards responsible government,
which said a more effective approach
to negotiating and managing PBS
listings could be implemented by
reducing the role of government and
establishing an independent entity
similar to New Zealand’s Pharmaceutical
Management Agency (PHARMAC)
to negotiate on prices.
In an uncharacteristically blunt
response, Dr Shaw said that should
the National Commission of Audit’s
recommendations be implemented it
would effectively end the PBS as we
He also spoke about medicines
availability in New Zealand
‘Australian patients should be worried
about the recommendations around
the PBS. These recommendations would
lead to Australians missing out on
medicines, or having to wait even longer
for new medicines to treat things like
cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and rare
diseases,’ he said.
‘I don’t think it’s an exaggeration that
patients are actually in danger if all
these recommendations around the PBS
‘It would choke access to the pipeline
of innovative new life-saving and
life-enhancing medicines that
Australians rightfully expect to receive.
And it would almost certainly lead to
the end of the Australian medicines
industry, with flow-on of the billions
of dollars in exports it generates, and
the thousands of highly skilled jobs
Dr Shaw questioned why the PBS should
be cut when it was the only major area
of health spending going backwards.
‘At a time when hospital expenditure
and MBS payments are experiencing
up to double-digit annual growth,
the PBS now constitutes a much smaller
percentage of total health costs than it
did in 2003–04. It has fallen from over
21% of Federal health spending to
16% in 2012–13,’ he said.
‘ The Government’s supposed forecast
of 7% PBS growth going forward is
rubbish. Even people in Government
don’t believe the Government’s forecast.
All the industry forecasts of PBS sales
I’ve seen show it falling by more than
2% this year.
‘ The PBS is sustainable for the
foreseeable future – end of story.’
Dr Shaw said that the real debate on the
future of the PBS was about declining
access to new medicines and pointed
to a dramatic decline in submissions
getting positive recommendations
for listing new medicines on the
PBS combined with a sharp rise in
conditional recommendations with
pricing conditions that were unable to
be met by companies.
‘We’ve gone from 71% of
recommendations being positive in
2010 dropping to 52% within two years,’
Dr Shaw said the average time from TGA
approval to final PBS listing for some
forms of cancer medicines had increased
from 15 to 31 months.
‘At the end of the day sick Australians and
others managing their health have less
access to new medicines. Make no mistake;
this is already a problem Australia is facing
now,’ he said.
He welcomed the news that the Health
Minister had ‘re-invigorated’ the Access to
Medicines Working Group.
Dr Shaw said that the Commission of Audit
misunderstood how the PBS worked and
was oblivious to the implications of its
‘ The Commission of Audit’s own figures
show the PBS is sustainable out to at least
2023–24,’ he said.
Commenting on PHARMAC he said:
‘Accountants, bean counters and basically
anyone who doesn’t care about healthcare
and long term efficiency look at the
New Zealand PHARMAC system with
wistful eyes. Such proponents also ignore
recent studies that have shown the lack of
choice and availability of new therapies
for New Zealand patients and doctors,
with around 77 medicines subsidised in
Australia that are not subsidised in New
Zealand. Or that it takes two years longer
to get a medicine reimbursed in New
Zealand than it does in Australia.
‘Of the 124 new medicines reimbursed in
Australia since 2000, 99 are not reimbursed
in New Zealand. To turn that around,
New Zealand citizens only have access
to 20% of medicines Australia has listed
for reimbursement since 2000. Without
intending to sound melodramatic,
it means Kiwis are dying earlier, or leading
lower-quality lives, than their cousins
across the ditch, due to treatable illness
and disease,’ he said.
(The speech is at: www.medicinesaustralia.
“THE PBS IS SUSTAINABLE FOR
THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE –
END OF STORY.”
Links Archive Australian Pharmacist May 2014 Australian Pharmacist July 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page