Media release

AMA calls for two months of medicines to be dispensed from a single script

The federal government must show leadership and implement the recommendations of the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to increase the maximum dispensed quantities on selected PBS items from one month’s supply to two months’ supply.

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Australian Medical Association President Professor Steve Robson said while the committee’s recommendations were normally uniformly adopted, strangely, the recommendations — made by the independent body of experts — had been shelved.

“The failure to implement this independent recommendation is costing both patients and the taxpayer,” Professor Robson said.

 “PBAC made the recommendation in 2018 after assessing the clinical safety and ongoing cost-effectiveness of the proposed change. The AMA supported the decision as sensible policy that would improve access to medications for patients, while saving health budget dollars for taxpayers. It’s a clear win-win scenario.”

Professor Robson said the PBAC decision fully addressed patient safety, with the two months’ supply recommendation limited to a list of 143 medicines in circumstances where it is deemed safe by a doctor.

“This is one simple change that could be introduced tomorrow that would improve access to medicines while maintaining safety, by allowing two months’ worth of medicines to be dispensed from a single script.

“By doing this, for these particular medicines, patients could get two months' supply from one co-payment. Put another way – for those on these repeat medications, it would effectively halve the cost. When Australians are facing increasing costs of living, following the independent advice of our experts to halve medication costs is a no brainer,” he said.

“This is about improving patient access to vital medications. And best of all in this budget-constrained environment, it also saves taxpayers by reducing multiple dispensing fees. That’s money saved that could be ploughed back into our health budget.

“The AMA has written to Minister for Health Mark Butler to urge the government to reconsider PBAC’s recommendation.”

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