Coming into effect from 1 April, the PBS discounts are expected to save customers $135 million over the next 4 years, as well as saving Aussie taxpayers around $455 million, according to a statement from Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Eight new drugs will also be listed, which combat conditions ranging from skin cancer to rheumatism; these will represent thousands of dollars in savings for the hundreds of Australians each year who require them.
Drugs such as Rosuvastatin, taken by nearly half a million Australians to combat high cholesterol, will see savings of 22% per prescription.
Cancer treatment drugs Adcetris and Erivedge – used to treat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) respectively – will also receive large subsidies, saving patients between $7,400 and $16,100 for a course of treatment.
The most expensive new addition is a Glycomacropeptide formula which helps treat Phenylketonuria, an inborn metabolic disorder. Without the new PBS subsidies, patients would pay around $24,400 annually for access to the medication.
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The latest PBS additions will help realise an expected $20 billion in cumulative savings for Aussies since PBS reforms began back in 2007.
“The Turnbull Government’s careful management of PBS spending means that we are able to list new, effective medicines to the PBS when they become available,” Hunt said.
“In 2015-16, we provided $10.8 billion to the PBS — $7.6 billion for the products, and $3.2 billion to supply them through wholesalers, pharmacies, and hospitals.
“Part of our rock solid commitment to Medicare is ensuring people have access to medicine when they need it. We are delivering on this commitment.”
Opposition backs discounts but condemns any changes
The Federal Opposition has welcomed the continued discounts to pharmaceuticals, but has warned that the Turnbull Government still has policies on the table that would result in cost increases for customers.
In a statement from Shadow Health Minister Catherine King, Labor claimed credit for the continued PBS improvements, which resulted from legislation introduced under the previous Labor government.
Labor passed legislation in 2010 to implement price disclosures for pharmaceuticals, as well as further policy in 2013 to speed up the approval process for discounting medicines on the PBS.
The party welcomed the addition of new drugs and discounts to the scheme, and urged the government not to consider any policies which would raise prices.
“Unfortunately the Turnbull Government still has a measure on the table to push up the price of all medicines on the PBS, making them more costly for millions of patients,” stated Ms King.
“It doesn’t make any sense for the Minister to be spruiking today’s positive developments for consumers when his Government has a policy to increase the cost of life-saving drugs by up to $5, budgeted from July this year. They need to drop this immediately if they want any credibility on making medicines more affordable.”