Millions of Australians set to benefit from new and cheaper medicines

28 March, 2017

Going to the pharmacy is set to be cheaper from next month, with the cost of more than 1100 medicine brands being reduced and with vital new drugs being added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The Turnbull Government is committed to making medicines available and more affordable for all Australians. We have a rock solid commitment to Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

From 1 April, millions of Australians suffering from a range of health conditions will benefit when more than 1,100 medicine brands listed on the PBS drop in price.

People with conditions including high cholesterol, Parkinson's disease, depression, breast cancer, eczema and psoriasis will pay less for their medicines.

As an example, 467,000 Australians using rosuvastatin for high cholesterol will save 22% per script.

For the many Australians who take multiple medications daily, the savings will be considerable.

These reductions are expected to save Australian families $135 million over the next four years and will also deliver estimated savings to taxpayers of $455 million.

These savings are part of more than $20 billion in savings estimated to be achieved by 2019-20, since PBS reforms began in 2007.

The Turnbull Government is also continuing to list all vital new drugs to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Since coming into Government, we've added around $5 billion worth of drugs to the PBS.

This means that drugs which may otherwise cost hundreds of thousands of dollars will be available for no more than $38.80 per script – or just $6.30 for concession card holders.

From 1 April, new treatments for two rare cancers, Hodgkin Lymphoma, and an advanced type of skin cancer, will be available through the PBS. Some of the other listings include treatments for psoriasis, arthritis, schizophrenia and iron deficiency.

PBS listing of brentuximab vedotin (marketed as Adcetris®) and vismodegib (Erivedge®) will save eligible cancer patients between $7,400 and $16,100 for a course of treatment.

Adcetris is well tolerated by Hodgkin Lymphoma patients and offers better outcomes to two groups of patients.

These are 39 patients a year on average with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma following autologous stem cell transplantation, and around 97 a year on average who have not undergone transplantation.

Adcetris works by targeting certain cancer cells, and is therefore less toxic than traditional chemotherapy. 

Erivedge, also listed from 1 April, is used to treat skin cancer, specifically metastatic or locally advanced basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

BCC represents the majority of non-melanoma skin cancers. In most cases, it can be cured by early treatment, but in rare cases the cancer progresses to a point where surgery and radiotherapy are no longer appropriate.

As a result, there is a high clinical need for a new non-surgical treatment for advanced BCC. 

Around 113 Australians a year will now have affordable access to Erivedge, which would otherwise cost $7,448 for a course of treatment.

Brenzys®, a biosimilar brand of the drug etanercept and a biological disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (bDMARD), is also being listed in April for a range of conditions. 

Australia's PBS is one of the foundations of our universal health care system, which is the envy of most nations. 

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.

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 an