Articles on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

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Representatives of the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries at a press conference in Atlanta, after a deal was reached. EPA/Erik S. Lesser

Why biologics were such a big deal in the Trans Pacific Partnership

Before the last round of negotiations, only a handful of issues remained in the way of concluding the TPP. A potential deal-breaker for Australia was intellectual property protections for biologics.
As the Australian government tightens its belt, consumers end up spending more of their own money on health. Nikki Short/AAP Image/AAP

Patients paying more for health care as government tightens belt

Australians are picking up some of the slack of government belt-tightening by paying more for health, with experts concerned this could reduce the equity in Australia's health system.
Off-label use is when an approved medicine is prescribed for a different reason, at a different dose, or in different patient groups than originally intended. Benny Lin/Flickr

Explainer: why are off-label medicines prescribed?

The off-label use of medicines is not illegal and it doesn't mean regulators have specifically "disapproved" its use. But there are a number of issues to consider before using a medicine off-label.
Trade minister Andrew Robb attends negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership in Sydney last year. Dan Himbrechts/AAP Image

How the battle over biologics helped stall the Trans Pacific Partnership

Over the next few weeks, the trade minister will be under intense pressure to renege on the government’s commitment to reject anything in the Trans Pacific Partnership that could undermine the PBS.
The leaked measures would have benefited consumers and taxpayers, with small imposition on the lucrative bottom lines of pharmacists and the pharmaceutical industry. NVinacco/Flickr

Budget entrée disappoints but PBS reform still on the menu

Despite numerous leaks about impending changes to medicines policy, the budget showed savings of just $252.2 million over five years from adjusting the price of a small number of PBS-listed drugs.
The government is playing “hardball” in the talks over the new Community Pharmacy Agreement, according to sources. medicine picture from

Government versus pharmacists in search for big savings

The government is locked in a major battle with pharmacists as it looks for $3 billion in budget savings from the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Despite assurances from Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, the TPP could negatively affect Australian health policy. Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Leaked TPP investment chapter shows risks to Australia’s health

The latest part of the TPP to be leaked is its investment chapter. And like almost everything we know about the secretive negotiations for the agreement, it provides plenty of cause for concern.
Patients pay a contribution towards the cost of their medication to the pharmacist who then claims the difference between what they paid and the patient contribution from the government. Gustavo Gomes/Flickr

Explainer: what is the Community Pharmacy Agreement?

Australians make an average of 14 visits to the pharmacy for medicines and advice every year but most don't know about the agreement that governs how we buy government-subsidised medicines from them.
A rise in the co-payment for medicines may lead to an increase in the rates of discontinuation for some drugs. Michael Cheng

Hidden cost of increasing drug co-payment poses a high risk

Apart from proposing a co-payment for visiting doctors, the last federal budget also contained a proposal to increase the level of co-payments for medications. The government seems to have given little…
Central to the processes of the PBS is the idea that drugs with identical or similar clinical outcomes should have similar prices. Thinglass/Shutterstock

How the US trade deal undermined Australia’s PBS

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Reduced access to generics drugs has contributed to the 80% rise in the cost of Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

It’s time to fix the free trade bungle on the cost of medicines

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
It’s not yet clear how the Coalition will weigh health issues against economic priorities. jdwfoto/Shutterstock

Coalition’s policy bodes ill for health in free trade negotiations

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is the tenth largest Commonwealth Government program, now costing over $9 billion a year. Taki Steve/Flickr

PBS savings: two sides of the coin

When it comes to pharmaceuticals expenditure, the National Commission of Audit’s proposals rate highly on any policy change scale. Its two main recommendations are designed to reduce the overall cost to…
Fixing the pricing of combination therapies could save around A$120 million a year. Bart/Flickr

Want PBS savings? Fix the pricing for combined drugs

Last week, Treasurer Joe Hockey made a “case for change” in the way government spends money. His focus was largely on macro policy settings, such as pension entitlements, including access to schemes such…
Some drug manufacturing in India is global best practice. Other production is both shoddy and dangerous. Shutterstock

Regulator silent on safety of Indian-made generic drugs

Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs whose patent has expired, allowing consumers (and governments) to buy a replica drug at a fraction of the price. But a recent US investigation has found consumers…
Three consumer organisations have recently joined forces to campaign for cheaper medicines. Waleed Alzuhair

Should only pharmacists profit from falling drug prices?

The Consumers Health Forum has just launched a website containing information about the cost of generic drugs in Australia compared to other countries. Each day, Australians pay A$3 million more for these…
We need a more rational debate about how and where we spend our finite health budget. Image from

Explainer: what is health rationing?

HEALTH RATIONING – a series which examines Australia’s rising health costs and the tough decisions governments must make to rein them it. Any mention of the “R” word in health care immediately brings to…
Recent surveys show many Australians have not filled a prescription because of cost. Robert S. Donovan

Why automating the PBS safety net will be good for everyone

A growing number of people globally live with chronic illness. By the time they reach 65, most Australians have at least one chronic condition and 80% have three or more. Pharmaceutical treatment is often…

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