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Cheaper medicines to ease cost of living

The Albanese Government is easing cost of living pressures and making hundreds of common medicines cheaper, by allowing millions of Australians to buy two months’ worth of medicine for the price of a single prescription.

3 May 2023

 

FROM 1 September, general patients will be able save up to $180 a year if their medicine is able to be prescribed for 60 days, concession card holders will save up to $43.80 a year per medicine.

 

At least 6 million Australians will halve their medicine costs and need fewer visits to the GP and pharmacist to get the medicine they use the most, saving patients more than $1.6 billion over the next four years.

 

Introducing 60-day prescribing for stable, ongoing conditions was a recommendation of the clinical experts at the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) in 2018.

 

The 2018 recommendation was never implemented by the former government, costing Australians billions in lost savings.

 

The change will bring Australia into line with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and Canada, where patients already have access to multiple month medications on a single prescription.

 

Once fully implemented, the 60-day prescribing policy will provide doctors with the option to prescribe a two-month supply of more than 320 medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to Australians with stable, ongoing conditions. The current dispensing limit is for a one-month supply only.

 

Hundreds of medicines for conditions like heart disease, cholesterol, Crohn disease and hypertension will be cheaper.

 

The PBAC considered the safety profile of the medicines that it recommended, and doctors will make a clinical decision about whether 30-day or 60-day prescribing is appropriate for the individual circumstances of the patients they treat.

 

While eligible Australians will be able to buy double the medicine on single script, overall demand for medicines will remain unchanged. This reform won’t affect medicine availability and it won’t add to shortages.

 

Minister for Health 4th and Aged Care Mark Butler said, “Every year, nearly a million Australians are forced to delay or go without a medicine that their doctor has told them is necessary for their health."

 

“This cheaper medicines policy is safe, good for Australians’ hip pockets and most importantly good for their health."

 

“Australian pharmacies already do much more than just dispense medicine and the Government is supporting our trusted pharmacists to play an even bigger role in the healthcare of Australians.”

 

This reform delivers important cost of living relief to Australians, and every dollar saved by the Government will be reinvested straight back into community pharmacies to secure the ongoing strength of the sector and ensure our trusted pharmacists play an even larger role in the healthcare of Australians.

 

The Government is also investing $350 million to community pharmacy outreach into aged care facilities to ensure older Australians are managing their medications.

 

The Albanese Government has a proud record of making medicines cheaper for all Australians. On January 1, for the first time in the 75-year history of the PBS, the general co-payment was reduced from $42.50 to $30. In the first three months, 5.1 million prescriptions have been cheaper, saving Australians more than $58 million.

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