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Mental health funding a sound investment but access to latest schizophrenia drug still blocked

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Media Release

Medicines Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion funding for mental health, but questions the logic of blocking patient access to the latest schizophrenia medicine.

Funding for a mental health commission, early intervention programs and better coordination of social and clinical services for those with a mental illness is an important step towards ensuring the 1 million Australians living with depression are better supported.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the Government should be congratulated on its mental health initiative, but that Federal Cabinet needed to ensure the latest mental health treatments were also funded.

“Mental health problems are a major cause of disability in Australia today, affecting many consumers and carers. It is encouraging to see mental health receive the kind of funding it deserves,” Dr Shaw said.

“But it simply doesn’t make sense to make an investment of that magnitude on one hand, and on the other make a political decision to block access to the latest schizophrenia treatment.”

Federal Cabinet delayed the listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme of the latest medicine for schizophrenia, even though the Government’s own expert committee said it was value for money, and should be made available.

“Cabinet’s decision is a false economy because independent analysis by Deloitte Access Economics shows that listing this medicine would save the Government $52 million,” Dr Shaw said.

“Prescription medicines have a demonstrable record of improving patient outcomes in mental health, and in keeping patients out of hospital and in the workforce.

“Suicide rates have dropped in adults suffering from depression with the introduction of new anti-depressant medicines. Clearly, however, there is much more to be done.

“It makes no sense to make such an enormous investment in mental health without investing in the latest treatments, particularly when those treatments have been recommended by the Governments’ own independent expert committee.”

Medicines Australia works closely with the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) through the MHCA Pharma Collaboration to improve health outcomes in mental health.

–ENDS–

Contact Person:

Jamie Nicholson
Media Communications Manager
Phone: 0419 220 293
Email:
Jamie.Nicholson@medicinesaustralia.com.au

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