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Parliament condemns Cabinet decision to block listing of new PBS medicines

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Media Release

Medicines Australia today welcomed the Parliament’s passage of a motion that the listing of new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme should not be “subject to capricious political interference”.

Medicines Australia’s acting chief executive Andrew Bruce said the motion should send a strong signal to Government that Australian voters want a return to the well-established, independent, non-political process for bringing new medicines onto the PBS.

“I congratulate the Parliament for recognising the gravity of this issue,” Mr Bruce said.

“I particularly congratulate the Member for Pearce Judi Moylan MP, the Member for Moore, Mal Washer MP and Tasmanian Senator Guy Barnett for raising this important issue in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“The Cabinet’s decision to block new listings on the PBS has caused a lot of angst among patients, doctors and the Australian medicines industry.

“The Government is bringing politics into clinical decisions where people’s health, and indeed their lives, are at stake. They are pursuing the political imperative of a Budget surplus and they’re using patients’ medicines to do it.

“This is bad policy, which is hurting society’s most vulnerable.

“It’s putting medicines beyond the reach of many ordinary Australians, and threatens to take us into a two-tier health system, where only the rich have access to the latest medicines.

“Australia shouldn’t be a country where we can’t afford to provide medicines for sick people.

“It’s time for the Government to end this Cabinet lottery and return to the old system that has served patients well.

“These are medicines that the expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has found to be cost-effective and therefore a sound economic investment. Few, if any, other areas of government expenditure are subject to the same rigorous economic evaluation.”

The motion passed by the Parliament “deplores the Government’s new policy that despite positive recommendations by the PBAC, all applications for listing will be further scrutinised by Cabinet” and that “listing of medicines can be deferred indefinitely”.


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