Many common medicines including paracetamol and aspirin will no longer be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from the start of next year. The Federal Government said it would save nearly $100 million a year by scrapping 17 types of over-the-counter medicines from the PBS.
A recent article by ABC News reporter Dan Conifer reports on the changes to the Public Benefits Scheme [PBS]. The article was originally published online on the 3rd of November, 2015. The push has been lead by a savings incentive, and the Government states it will save almost $100 million with the changes, and says the scrapped drugs generated 8.7 million prescriptions:
The Government said the medicines generated 8.7 million scripts, costing the Government $87 million in 2014-15— most of the annual taxpayer spend on over-the-counter drugs.
Other news sources claim that wiping aspirin alone could save $500 million.
The Government hopes that the savings will mean that more money is available to invest in new drug listings that could be of serious benefit in the future.
‘”This distortion costs Government and prevents us from listing new drugs which we might be able to do with those dollars.”’
But what will it mean for patients today? There is a concern that fewer people will pass the safety net threshold, but the Health Minister Susan Ley is not concerned:
‘”A curiosity of the system means that if you reach the safety net for medicines you can access these over-the-counter drugs free,” Ms Ley said.
“But overall while you get up to that safety net you pay as a concessional patient $6.10 on average for Panadol or aspirin when you could buy that medicine for $2 over the counter,” she added.
Types of drugs included in the sweeping changes include paracetamol, medication for heartburn and topical skin allergy creams.