Skip to content Skip to menu

PBS deferrals risk creating two-tier health system

Monday, 25 July 2011

Media Release

Federal Cabinet’s decision to defer the listing of new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme threatens to take Australia into a two-tier health system, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw told a Senate Committee hearing today.

Dr Shaw was giving evidence to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee Inquiry into the Government’s administration of the PBS.

Dr Shaw said five months after Cabinet’s announcement to defer the listing of some medicines that had been recommended by the Government’s own expert advisory committee, some patients were still unable to afford those treatments.

“For patients this has meant five months without medicines that would materially improve their lives,” Dr Shaw told the Inquiry.

“Patients suffering from schizophrenia, excessive sweating and chronic pain are all missing out. As more medicines come up for listing, more patients are now anxious they too will miss out in the future.

“We run the real risk of developing a two-tier health system, where the wealthy can afford the most effective and convenient treatment options, while the rest will have to make do with less convenient treatments already on the PBS.

“There are few things more important in government than making medicines affordable for sick people and their families.

“Given Australia is a wealthy country, with one of the best fiscal positions in the industrialised world, we should be able to afford to spend money on medicines for sick people.

“The growth of the PBS is at historic lows. Treasury’s own projections from last year’s Intergenerational Report suggest that growth will remain flat at around 0.7 per cent of GDP until at least 2020.

“The PBS is a sustainable, well run program that delivers major benefits to the health of the nation. These benefits run far deeper than a simple reading of the balance sheet by an accountant would suggest.”

Dr Shaw urged the Committee to recommend that Government list the medicines it has deferred and revert to the previous practice of listing new medicines recommended to it by its own expert advisory committee.

–ENDS–

Contact Person:

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

Information

As COVID19 continues to spread, our thoughts go out to anyone who has been infected or impacted. We hope that you are taking the necessary precautions to keep safe and well, both at work and at home.

Medicines Australia continues to monitor the situation and take advice from the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation. We are focused on responding to the important short-term issues but are also ensuring we stay balanced and maintain a focus on the medium and long-term business for our industry along with the well-being of our people.

At Medicines Australia we have initiated the following to ensure we support containment measures to provide business continuity and the well-being of our staff.

  • All non-essential travel has been restricted or cancelled
  • All face-to-face meetings (with external stakeholders and members) have been changed to virtual meetings (where appropriate)
  • Staff have been provided with the latest official information on COVID-19 through a hot-link on the office intranet; this information is regularly monitored and updated
  • Flexible working arrangements are covered in our HR policy which will allow staff to work remotely, if or when required
  • Current IT infrastructure enables staff to work remotely and will be in use if any person needs to self-isolate
  • Visual reminders have been displayed around the office, providing information about best hygiene practices
  • Extra hand-sanitiser, tissues and cleaning products have been supplied to staff for their work spaces

Our latest information is located at medicinesaustralia.com.au/covid-19/

Top