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Pharmacy Guild calls for budget focus on real cost of living pressures

Medicine Price

The Pharmacy Guild is maintaining the pressure on the federal government to take action to address the rising cost of prescription medicines.

The organisation says any move by the government to address the cost of living pressures in next week’s budget must focus on medicines affordability rather than populist measures like making beer cheaper.

PBS co-payments are adjusted for inflation on 1 January each year. The current concessional co-payment is $6.80. The general patient co-payment is $42.50.

Guild national president Professor Trent Twomey said the out-of-pocket cost of medicines is one of the government’s “few practical levers to reign in the rising cost of living.”

“Our research shows that a staggering 24 per cent of non-concession cardholders are struggling to afford their medicines. More than one in ten – 13 per cent – have not filled a script over the last three years due to cost,” he said.

“The current general co-payment level of level of $42.50 is making medicines a luxury for middle-income families.

“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 900,000 people delayed getting their prescriptions filled because of the cost.

“This is a damning situation, but it is one which the Government has the power to act on – and act on immediately.”

Professor Twomey said making medicines more affordable will generate long-term savings by improving patient health and reducing the burden on the health system.

“Instead of fiddling around with tokenistic handouts, the Government must fix a situation which is affecting the health and wellbeing of hardworking Australians,” he said. “People are struggling to afford essentials and going without their medicines should never be a decision people have to make. In 2022, Australians demand – and deserve – better.”

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