Report on PBS contradicts flawed Medicines Australia analysis

Report on PBS contradicts flawed Medicines Australia analysis

28 May 2013

A new Federal Government and industry report reveals the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme continues to grow with new drug listings and increased demand for existing drugs the main drivers of increased spending.

Many of the findings of Trends in and Drivers of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Expenditure are at odds with a report released by Medicines Australia last week which contained errors, inaccuracies and selective use of statistics.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the new government report, co-authored by Medicines Australia, found spending on the PBS increased by $500 million a year, reaching $8.9 billion in 2010-11 financial year.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is a cornerstone of our universal health system, giving Australian patients access to thousands of life-saving medicines at an affordable price, said Ms Plibersek.

This new report confirms growth in PBS spending is lower than forecast, as taxpayers reap the benefits of 2010 legislation which is bringing government subsidies for medicines into line with prices pharmacists pay their suppliers, saving $2 billion over the forward estimates.

Ms Plibersek said the government report found the ageing population and increased incidence of chronic disease were also putting upward pressure on PBS spending, which was reflected in the growth in the Highly Specialised Drugs program.

More than half of PBS spending goes to people aged over 65 years old with 86% of PBS expenditure going to concessional patients who pay just $5.90 a prescription.

Ms Plibersek said much of the reports findings were at odds with Medicines Australias 2013 Federal Election document, out today, and an another report, The Impact of Further PBS Reforms study, released last week. Medicines Australia is also a co-author of Trends in and Drivers of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Expenditure, which is at odds with much of the other two.

The independent experts who recommend listings for the PBS make their decisions based on the clinical benefits of medicines, whereas Medicines Australia represents pharmaceutical companies which are driven primarily by profit.

Ms Plibersek said the government had a strong record of listings, adding 780 new listings and indications for existing PBS medicines since 2007 at a cost of over $5 billion.

In its report last week, Medicines Australia chose to only identify drugs recommended for listing on the PBS for the first time, completely ignoring 85 new indications for treatment listed by the government in 2011-12.