AMA praises PBS opioids changes as a win for palliative care

1 Oct 2020

The Australian Medical Association welcomes much needed improvements to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings for opioids, which will clarify their important role in alleviating suffering for palliative care patients. 

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Association supported important reforms to reduce the inappropriate use of opioids in Australia.  

The original PBS changes implemented on 1 June 2020 caused significant confusion and concern from prescribers and their patients,” Dr Khorshid said. 

“The changes unintentionally made accessing opioids from prescribers more difficult for palliative care patients with a legitimate clinical need. 

“This was particularly difficult for non-cancer palliative care patients. 

“Opioids are clinically necessary in many circumstances to relieve suffering from pain and breathlessness experienced by palliative care patients. 

The AMA has been advocating to the Department of Health and the Therapeutic Goods Administration, providing feedback from AMA members on the 1 June 2020 changes. 

“The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has reflected this feedback in the 1 October 2020 PBS listing changes, so it’s pleasing that the vital advocacy work of the AMA has been heeded,” Dr Khorshid said. 

In last week’s edition of GPNN, an article outlined the updated listings for opioid medications from 1 October 2020, including: 

  • Palliative care patients will be exempt from the 12-month pain management review by a second doctor or palliative care nurse practitioner if their clinical condition makes the review not possible. This is an important change for palliative care patients who may be too unwell for this to occur.   
  • When requesting authority approval, prescribers will no longer have to state the date of review and the name of the doctor or palliative care nurse practitioner conducting the review. Prescribers should still record this information for compliance purposes. 
  • Repetitive information required from prescribers will also be reduced by splitting PBS restrictions into initial and continuing treatment phases.   

Read the full media release here