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Making medicines cheaper for consumers

18 December, 2013

The Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, recently announced new listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for medicines to treat diabetes and lung cancer.

The PBS listing of the new medicines or combinations of medicines will apply from 1 February 2014, making these therapies considerably cheaper for Australian patients.

For patients with diabetes, a combination dose of aloglitpin with metformin (sold as Nesina Met®) has now been listed. While the drugs were already listed individually, many patients need to use both medicines at once to treat their condition.

"Making this combination dose available through the PBS will save many patients up to $36.90 whenever they get a script filled because they will be able to buy one medicine instead of two," Dutton said.

"More than 50,000 people are expected to obtain the combined medicine through the PBS over the next five years. With an average of seven packs each over that period, this represents a considerable saving to people living with diabetes."

Dutton also announced the PBS listing of erlotinib (sold as Tarceva®) for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. The listing provides another treatment option for this type of cancer, following approval in November of PBS listing for gefitinib (sold as Iressa®).

"About 1400 Australian patients with non-small cell lung cancer will now have a choice of subsidised treatment options for this serious disease," Dutton said.

All PBS listings are subject to final arrangements being met by the suppliers of the medicine.

Dutton also announced that a number of existing PBS drugs would be cheaper to both the Australian government and health consumers from 1 April 2014.

Common medicines which will be cheaper to consumers from 1 April, as a result of price disclosure, include:

  • Rabreprazole for gastric reflux, up to $8.78 cheaper per script, saving consumers around $7 million a year
  • Escitalopram for depression, up to $3.43 cheaper per script, saving non-concessional patients around $5.6 million a year
  • Simvastatin for high cholesterol, up to $5.18 cheaper per script, saving patients around $2.6 million a year

Three of the top five price reductions from 1 April will apply to cancer medicines.

"These price cuts are the result of price disclosure which was initially introduced in 2007 as part of the Howard government's PBS reforms," Dutton said.

"This means that the government pays a fairer price for the medicines it subsidises. The resulting savings are being used to extend subsidies to new and innovative drugs to treat Australian patients."

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