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New year brings cheaper medicines


Morgan Liotta


6/01/2023 12:00:35 PM

The maximum cost of subsidised prescriptions has been cut for the first time since the PBS was introduced 75 years ago.

Woman taking medication
The maximum PBS co-payment has dropped from $42.50 to $30 and will be indexed annually from 1 January.

From 1 January, the cost of medicines has been cut by up to 29% under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
 
The PBS co-payment for non-concession card holders has reduced from $42.50 to $30, which will continue to be indexed on the first day of every new year, from 1 January 2024.
 
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said the medicine reductions will help to improve patient outcomes and strengthen the Government’s partnership with GPs and community pharmacy.
 
‘The Government has delivered on our commitment to cut the cost of medications for millions of Australians,’ Minister Butler said.
 
‘Pharmacists have told me stories of their customers coming in with a handful of prescriptions asking for advice about which script they can go without, because they can’t afford to fill them all.
 
‘Our cheaper medicines policy will make that choice redundant for millions of Australians.’
 
The co-payment reduction for general scripts starting marks the first time it has been cut since the PBS was introduced in 1948.
 
Minister Butler said that for families relying on two or three medications, the reduced costs are expected to bring ‘as much as $450 back into their household budget’.
 
However, the 2022 concessional co-payment amount of $6.80 has increased to $7.30 from 1 January, in line with annual CPI indexation. Likewise, PBS Safety Net thresholds have increased from $244.80 to $262.80 for concession card holders, while general patients will need to spend $1563.50 to access its benefits.
 
The PBS has also listed new and expanded medicines from 1 January, including for patients with eye disease, asthma and rare blood disorders.
 
Faricimab (sold as Vabysmo) is listed for the first time to treat eye diseases – both diabetic
macular oedema and neovascular age-related macular degeneration – of which around 80,000 people accessed treatment for through the PBS in 2022. Without the subsidy, patients would expect to be out of pocket more than $4000 a year for treatment.
 
Belcometasone with formoterol and glycopyrronium (sold as Trimbow) has also been listed for the maintenance treatment of severe asthma. In 2022, around 1200 patients used comparable therapy last year, and would pay more than $1000 per year without subsidy for the additional treatment option.
 
Daratumumab (sold as Darzalex SC) has had its listing expanded to treat amyloid light-chain amyloidosis – one type of the rare disorder amyloidosis that occurs when the amyloid protein builds up in organs – in combination with other PBS-listed medicines. Around 160 Australians will benefit from the new treatment option each year, who would otherwise expect to pay more than $243,000 per course without the subsidy.
 
Since July 2022, the PBS has had additional funding approved for 61 new and amended listings.
 
The PBS has a fact sheet for patients, pharmacists and GPs with further information about the reduction to the general patient co-payment amount.
 
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Dr Lynette Dorothy Allen   7/01/2023 5:36:14 PM

It is really good that general patients have a reduced payment for PBS scripts. However they have to get a full priced script a week to reach the safety net to get concession priced scripts instead of 35 previously, and concession card holders are still 36 scripts and then free for the rest of the year .I am old enough to remember when the concession price was 50% of the price general patients paid!