The government caused turmoil by announcing in February that all new medicines will now require cabinet approval before they can be subsidised on the PBS[Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme] The federal government program which subsidises medication costs in Australia. Anti-HIV drugs are part of a special part of the PBS called Section 100 (S100) which is used for expensive, highly specialised drugs..
At the time, cabinet deferred subsidising seven new medicines and in April the government's expert advisory body, PBAC, recommended a further six receive a subsidy. Cabinet will now have to consider these for approval or also defer them indefinitely.
The pharmaceutical industry believes the new process breaches a memorandum of understanding between it and the commonwealth, and companies say they will have to reconsider marketing new drugs here as a reult.
NAPWHA’S Jo Watson believes the decision should be reconsidered.
‘The PBS listing process has served us well,’ she said ‘and has ensured a transparent and costeffective approach to delivering the best medicines to Australian patients.’
NAPWHA and many other health consumer groups believe this government decision will have an adverse effect on the health of individuals.
Federal health minister Nicola Roxon is considering allowing patient groups a say on medicine subsidies but argues that ultimately it is the government’s responsibility to decide whether or not to list a drug, taking into account fiscal circumstances.
The Consumer Health Forum CEO, Carol Bennett, spoke for many when she noted: ‘it is hard to believe that these decisions about people’s health reside best in the hands of our politicians.’