CPI rise in pharmaceuticals due to PBS safety net
The apparent surge in pharmaceutical prices included in today’s Australian Bureau of Statistics Consumer Price Index for the March quarter is easily explained by the mechanics of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme safety net, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said today.
“Today’s CPI pharmaceutical price should be considered in the context of the December 2009 CPI, when pharmaceutical prices fell 5.3 per cent,” Dr Shaw said.
“The fall of the pharmaceutical price index throughout the year to December 2009 quarter was largely due to patients reaching the PBS safety net and paying either a reduced co-payment in the case of general patients, or no co-payment in the case of concession card holders.
“As each calendar year progresses, more people reach the PBS safety net.
“On 1 January each year, the PBS safety net is reset and consumers resume paying the normal PBS co-payments until they again reach the PBS safety net.
“That is why the pharmaceutical component of the index rises again the first quarter of each calendar year.
“The apparent annual surge in pharmaceutical prices each March quarter is a product of Government policy rather than any changes in pharmaceutical company pricing policy.
“In previous years this March quarter price surge has been incorrectly interpreted by some observers as a result of undue price rises by pharmaceutical companies.
“However, the apparent increase in consumer medicine prices in the first quarter of each year is due to the impact of Government policy related to PBS safety nets.
“What it shows is that the safety net is working.”
This explanation is provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics itself in its own statistical release.
“Pharmaceutical prices rose as a result of the cyclical reduction of the proportion of consumers who qualify for subsidised medications under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at the start of each calendar year,” the ABS analysis said.
The chart below shows the cyclical changes in the pharmaceutical price index in the CPI for the last 10 years
Media Communications Manager
Phone: 0419 220 293