What subsidised drugs do Australians get prescribed the most often? The latest edition of Australian Prescriber, a peer-reviewed journal for Australian medical professionals, has detailed exactly that, along with what drugs are the most expensive for the government to subsidise.
The figures were based on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions from the date of supply for the tax year 2015-16.
Private prescriptions or co-payment prescriptions were not included in the data.
10 Most Prescribed
Top 10 drugs by Prescription counts:
- Atorvastatin (7,630,309): A cholesterol-lowering medication to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Lipitor is a common brand of atorvastatin.
- Esomeprazole (6, 889,031): Commonly sold in the form of Nexium tablets. This drug helps treat heartburn and acid reflux, among other things.
- Rosuvastatin (6,540,962): Used to treat high-cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. Commonly sold under the Crestor brand name.
- Paracetamol (5,056,087): A common pain-reliever for mild to moderate pain. Often used for cold and flu symptoms, headache and muscle pain. Also available over-the-counter without a prescription.
- Pantoprazole (4,747,823): Commonly used to treat acid reflux, heartburn and stomach ulcers.
- Perindopril (4,049,113): An ACE inhibitor that lowers blood pressure.
- Metformin (3,578,536): Used to treat type 2 diabetes by lowering high blood glucose.
- Pregabalin (3,237,101): An anti-epileptic drug that’s also commonly prescribed to alleviate nerve or neuropathic pain. Lyrica is a well-known brand for pregabalin.
- Fluticasone and salmeterol (3,003,985): Inhalant powder to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Commonly prescribed under the Seretide
- Salbutamol (2,975,537): Used to treat asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, usually via an asthma puffer. Commonly prescribed under the Ventolin
10 Most Used
Top 10 drugs by defined daily dose per 1000 population per day:
- Atorvastatin (52.81): A cholesterol-lowering medication to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Liptor is a common brand of atorvastatin.
- Perindopril (33.82): An ACE inhibitor that lowers blood pressure.
- Rosuvastatin (33.56): Used to treat high-cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. Commonly sold under the Crestor brand name.
- Amlodipine (30.66): Helps lower blood pressure and treat angina. Norvasc is a common brand of amlodipine.
- Paracetamol (26.85): A common pain-reliever for mild to moderate pain. Often used for cold and flu symptoms, headache and muscle pain. Also available over-the-counter without a prescription.
- Irbesartan (25.60): Used for treating high blood pressure or kidney problems caused by diabetes.
- Esomeprazole (23.18): Commonly sold in the form of Nexium tablets. This drug helps treat heartburn and acid reflux, among other things.
- Candesartan (22.71): Mainly used to treat high blood pressure, but also used to treat heart failure in some patients.
- Ramipril (20.40): An ACE inhibitor to treat high blood pressure and improve survival after a heart attack.
- Telmisartan (18.87): Treats high blood pressure and reduces risk of heart attack or stroke.
10 Most Expensive
Top 10 drugs by cost to government in $A
- Ledipasvir and sofosbuvir ($570,730,056): Despite having one of the lowest numbers of prescription counts on this list, this hepatitis C combination drug is the most expensive for the government. Australian Prescriber‘s medical editor Dr John Dowden said its topping of the list was the biggest change from last year’s figures. “They were only approved in March 2016, and in the four months to June 2016 have cost the government almost $1 billion for 43,000 prescriptions,” he said.
- Sofosbuvir ($372,094,623): Hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir on its own costs the government over $370 million, despite only 18,738 prescriptions.
- Adalimumab ($335,857,859): Medication to treat arthritis among other things. Prescription count: 194,405.
- Ranibizumab ($241,256,012): Commonly traded under the brand Lucentis, ranibizumab is used to treat age-related vision loss. Prescription count: 163,595.
- Aflibercept ($231,194,036): Used to treat age-related vision loss. Common brand is Eylea. Prescription count: 155,404.
- Esomeprazole ($170,554,177): Treatment for heartburn and acid reflux. Prescription count: 6,889,031.
- Etanercept ($166,538,773): Used to treat various forms of arthritis. Often traded under the brand Enbrel. Prescription count: 97,291.
- Trastuzumab ($157,134,211): A treatment for breast cancer. Prescription count: 50,217.
- Fluticasone and salmeterol ($148,878,399): Inhalant powder to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Prescription count: 3,003,985.
- Insulin glargine ($146,202,125): Used in an insulin pen to treat type 1 diabetes. Prescription count: 367,253.
What is the PBS?
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is a government-funded program in Australia that subsidises specific medications to make them more affordable for Australian residents. PBS price subsidies are also available for foreign visitors covered by a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement. The PBS list is one of the most important components of Australia’s health care system.