Consumers big winners from medicines deals

The price of common medicines could be slashed – potentially saving patients over $100 per year – with the Federal Government striking two landmark deals benefiting consumers.


Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced the Government had signed five year agreements with the Generic Medicines industry Association (GMiA) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia as part of a broader package of measures across the pharmaceutical supply chain to be unveiled later today.


In one of the biggest reforms of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) proposed in the last decade, the Government has come to an agreement with GMiA that will significantly reduce the price of generic medicines for patients and taxpayers.


The change will particularly benefit concessional patients, who could see the upfront amount they pay drop from $6.10 to $5.10 per script, potentially saving many patients about $40 per year.


The agreement could see some of Australia’s most common medicines for cholesterol, heart conditions and depression halve in price – in some cases by as much as $10 per script for general patients – saving chronic users upwards of $120 or more each year from October next year.


Ms Ley said the GMiA agreement would also see the Government improve rules around incentives for pharmacists to offer patients the option of cheaper generic versions of medicines, as well as $20 million for a campaign to increase consumer confidence in the use of ‘biosimilar’ medicines.


The GMiA agreement will also complement measures secured in the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, including a doubling of investment in pharmacy primary care support programmes for patients to $1.26 billion over five years, and the option for pharmacists to offer a $1 discount, per script, on the patient co-payment.


Ms Ley said in another example of sensible health policy, a number of the measures saving patients money were also set to “pay dividends” for taxpayers by driving efficiencies that could then be reinvested back into the health system, including the listing of new medicines.


“For example, removing ‘originator’ brands from price calculations for everyday medicines could see the price of common generic drugs halve for some patients whilst also saving taxpayers $2 billion over five years.


“The proposal to allow pharmacists to discount the price of medicines by up to $1 per script could save some pensioners about $40 per year, whilst also introducing greater competition into the pharmacy sector and delivering the Government about $400 million worth of efficiencies over five years.”


Ms Ley said those elements from both agreements requiring legislative approval would be introduced into Parliament today as one package of measures.


27 May 2015.