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Price reductions on PBS medicine can be checked online

27 September, 2016

Millions of consumers will be able to access more affordable medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 October – and they can go online to check the savings they will make.

The Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, announced price reductions on more than 2000 medication brands on the PBS.

"I encourage consumers to visit the website and be fully informed about the steps the Government is taking to ensure all Australians have access to affordable medications when they need them," she said.

An online spreadsheet of savings will list the medicines and their price reductions, which are up to $20 per medicine per script, in some cases.

More information about price reductions of medicines and fact sheets is available on the PBS website.

Ley said the reductions are the result of the PBS Access and Sustainability Package reforms, which passed Parliament last year.

"These changes will see the originator or first listed brand version of the drug removed from certain medicine pricing calculations, allowing the average cost of the cheaper, generic brands to be used instead.

"This will deliver savings for both consumers and taxpayers. In some cases, even where there is no change to the consumer price, there will be a reduction for taxpayers, who fund the PBS because the Government is paying less for those medications.

"Some patients suffering multiple chronic conditions – such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and gastric reflux – will benefit most from these reforms, potentially saving them up to $400 per year."

For example, a non-concessional patient with diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and gastric reflux who is currently taking:

    • metformin for type 2 diabetes 500mg tablet twice daily,
    • pantoprazole for gastric reflux 40mg tablet daily,
    • alendronate 70 mg + colecalciferol 140 microgram tablet for osteoporosis (as per dosing instructions), and
    • enalapril with hydrochlorothiazide 20 mg/6 mg tablet daily for high blood pressure,

will save up to $34.19 per month on scripts, which equates to a yearly reduction of $410.28.

Prices for medications depend on a number of factors, including the program under which the medication is prescribed, and in what quantity. Prices can also vary between brands if the pharmaceutical company imposes a patient premium and may be affected by any discretionary fees added or discounts given by the pharmacy. The amount paid also varies depending on the concessional status of the patient.

These price reductions will benefit many non-concessional patients where the total cost of the script is now below the PBS co-payment amount of $38.30.

Minister Ley said the reforms also represent a significant win for taxpayers.

More than 80 per cent of the 2000 brands of medicines set to fall in price on 1 October will result in a direct saving to consumers. The remaining 20 per cent - those priced above the general PBS co-payment of $38.30 – will result in savings to taxpayers.

"These price reductions will save taxpayers $900 million over four years," she said.

"The savings from the PBS Access and Sustainability Package are already being used to subsidise breakthrough medicines, like the melanoma treatment Keytruda, which was added to the PBS last year."

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