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PBS spending 'going backwards'

27 September, 2013

The federal government's Final Budget Outcome 2012-13 statement released last week confirms spending on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is going backwards, Medicines Australia has said in a statement.

The figures prove once and for all that the key issue for the PBS is "ensuring that the savings from price disclosure are used to list new medicines", Dr Brendan Shaw, Medicines Australia chief executive, said.

"Incredibly, government spending on medicines for 2012-13 was $857 million below what the former government estimated only two months earlier in the May Budget.

"These huge cuts to PBS spending have come at a time when more and more medicines are facing a logjam in the listing process, patients are waiting for new therapies, and the PBS has seen the lowest number of new molecules listed in 20 years."

The purpose of PBS reforms introduced by both the coalition and Labor governments since 2006 was to drive savings through off-patent price reductions to fund new medicines on the PBS in a timely manner.

The Outcome statement released also shows that in 2012-13 government spending on medicines actually fell by 3.5 per cent in 2012-13.

The Treasury said that the reduction in spending is due to the greater than expected impact of price disclosure and cost-sharing arrangements.

"It's clear now that while the savings from price disclosure are coming by the truckload, the funds need to be invested in new therapies for things like cancer, diabetes and chronic pain," Dr Shaw said.

"It's imperative that the savings coming from price disclosure be used to speed up the listing of new medicines for the community.

"Industry looks forward to working with the new government to ensure that the process for listing new medicines is efficient and that the substantial savings from price reductions are invested in new therapies for the Australian community."

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