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Historic win for patients as government reduces price of PBS medicines

PBS Medicines

Community pharmacy peak body the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, patient advocacy body the Australian Patients Association, Chronic Pain Australia and Muskuloskeletal Australia today welcomed the government’s announcement that it will lower the maximum Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) co-payment from $42.50 to $32.50, a 24 per cent saving to patients.

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Professor Trent Twomey, said this is a genuine win for patients.

“Community pharmacies see patients struggling to afford medicines from prescription to prescription and from paycheck to paycheck. As the cost of living rises, patients are increasingly finding themselves being forced to choose between putting food on the table or buying the medicines they and their families need.

“We don’t want to see Australians ending up in emergency, in hospital, or with long term damage to their health because they have been forced to delay or skip taking essential medicines due to cost.
“This government has made history by becoming the first government to reduce the PBS co-payment for all Australians.

“The government doesn’t have many levers to directly reduce the cost of living for Australians, but this is one that is in its control. The reduction will help Australians afford the prescription medicines which they need to stay well.

“The Guild will continue to advocate for the maximum PBS co-payment to be regularly reviewed and lowered by government as a way to relieve the hip pockets of Australians and ensure patients who are prescribed medicines actually have the means to take them.

The cost of medicines has become a key issue for voters with 30 per cent saying they’re struggling to afford medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) a jump of 6 points since January this year, according to research by independent polling firm Insightfully. The number of voters skipping medicines entirely has also gone up, with 17 per cent of voters now saying they or their families have been unable to purchase medicines due to cost. This is a 3 point jump since January, when the price of medicines on the PBS went up again.

CEO of the Australian Patients Association Stephen Mason said that the issue of affordability of prescription medicines is an ongoing concern for many Australians.

“Our research has found that almost 36 per cent of people believe that prescription medication is too expensive and 20% of people say it’s outside of their regular budget.”

President of Chronic Pain Australia, Fiona Hodson is advocating that all Australians living with chronic pain receive Triple A standards of care – Awareness, Accessibility and Affordability.

“The reduction in the co-payment will be welcome news to the one in five Australians living with chronic pain. Medicine affordability is a key issue for these patients as they manage their complex and chronic conditions.”

CEO of Musculoskeletal Australia Rob Anderson said that consumers are struggling to afford medications to manage their own health and are concerned that their weekly budget is getting squeezed thinner and thinner.

“A recent survey we conducted found that 62 per cent of respondents had experienced financial stress as a result of having a musculoskeletal condition. 39 per cent said that the cost of medications caused this financial burden. We’re urging Canberra to take this issue seriously so that the many Australians that live with a musculoskeletal condition can access their vital medicines.”

“Community pharmacists formed a patient coalition to advocate on this issue because the cost of PBS medicines is an urgent issue for millions of Australians,” Professor Twomey said.

“This shows that the government is focused on their needs. For many households, these medicines are the cost of staying alive.”

Photo by Roberto Sorin on Unsplash

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