Aussies save millions from cheaper medicines policy

More than 1.6 million discounted prescriptions were filled in January after the maximum co-payment for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme was discounted. 

The gap reduction from $42.50 to $30 means a person on a single medication a month could save up to $150 a year. 

The health department data also shows 1.3 million of the filed scripts took full advantage of the $12.50 discount, with total savings amounting to $18 million.

If the January trend continues, Australians would save $218 million in 2023.

Health Minister Mark Butler said on Sunday the discounts were life saving.

“Cheaper medicine is not just putting money back into patients’ pockets, it’s also good for Australia’s health,” he said.

Opposition health spokeswoman Anne Ruston said any measure that reduced the cost of medicines would be welcomed by the coalition but accused the government of failing to act on cost of living pressures.

“It’s incredibly disingenuous of the government to be out spruiking this reduction when it is a drop in the ocean compared to the significant cost of living pressures households are currently facing, which they don’t have a plan to address,” she said.

“Under this Labor government, the cost of living is skyrocketing but we have not seen any action to tackle these significant pressures.”

Mr Butler will meet with his state and territory counterparts this week and discuss expanding the role pharmacists play in the community. 

He flagged working towards giving pharmacists the opportunity to prescribe more medicines to ease pressure on GPs and other areas of the health sector, but noted granting more legal rights to prescribe medicines is a state decision.

“Over the last few years, the community has been reminded that in many cases, the pharmacy was the most accessible health care professional, right through the worst phases of this pandemic,” he said.

“This is a constant topic of discussion for all of us because we know how constrained the health workforce is right now at a time of skyrocketing demand.”

Mr Butler said the NSW government had reached out to the prime minister and himself about its proposal to allow pharmacists greater powers to dispense the contraceptive pill and treatment for urinary tract infections.

“We look forward to continuing to discuss with all states any opportunity to expand the work that’s been delivered by our hardworking healthcare professionals, including pharmacists,” he said. 


- Advertisement -