Medicine costs may in­crease

Isis Town and Country - - Health -

THE price of cheap over-the-counter medicines could rise un­der a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment plan to re­move sub­si­dies from some drugs to save about $500 mil­lion from Jan­uary.

Last month Health Min­is­ter Sus­san Ley an­nounced wide-rang­ing re­forms to the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Benefits Scheme and the way phar­ma­cies were gov­erned.

Plans in­clude a new $18.9 bil­lion sixth com­mu­nity phar­macy agree­ment, $6.6 bil­lion of “sav­ings”, $2.8 bil­lion in new in­vest­ment for chemists and po­ten­tially $2.5 bil­lion in new drugs listed on the PBS.

While the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment said con­sumers were the big win­ners un­der the deal, con­sumer ad­vo­cacy groups ar­gued it was a mixed bag.

“The key changes for re­gional con­sumers aris­ing from the new Com­mu­nity Phar­macy Agree­ment are likely to be a gen­eral rise over­all in medicines costs over the next five years, although some com­monly-used drugs such as statins for choles­terol are likely to decline in price,” Con­sumers Health Fo­rum CEO Leanne Wells said.

“The good news for re­gional phar­macy con­sumers is that there should be an in­creas­ing avail­abil­ity of com­mu­nity phar­macy pro­grams and pa­tient ser­vices, such as home medicine re­views, un­der plans to dou­ble fund­ing to $1.26 bil­lion over five years for pri­mary care pa­tient ser­vices.”

Ms Wells said the sep­a­rate change in the new phar­macy agree­ment, which al­lowed phar­ma­cies to of­fer an op­tional dis­count by up to $1, was un­likely to flow through to re­gional ar­eas where there were sole phar­ma­cies and no dis­count phar­macy out­lets.

The op­tional dis­count would re­duce the con­ces­sional pa­tient con­tri­bu­tion to $5.10 a script and the gen­eral pa­tient con­tri­bu­tion to $36.70 a script.

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