Media release

AMA urges immediate action to save patients on PBS medicines

The AMA has urged all members of the Federal Parliament to support the AMA’s campaign to bring down out-of-pocket costs of medicines for patients and relieve cost of living pressures.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson at Parliament House, Canberra

It says implementation of a five-year-old recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) would save patients up to $180 a year on selected PBS medicines.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson has written to all MPs and Senators, calling on their support for the Federal Government to immediately implement a recommendation from the independent PBAC to increase the maximum dispensed quantities of selected PBS items from one month’s supply to two months’ supply per dispensing.

This would also allow up to 12 months’ supply in total from a single script, saving patients an extra trip to their doctor.

Professor Robson said increasing out-of-pocket costs of medicines was a key reason many Australians delayed or failed to fill prescriptions.

He said although the Government’s recent policy to lower co-payments for patients to $30 was a good move, many patients still faced significant costs and more needed to be done to lower PBS medicine costs for patients.

“Implementation of this recommendation, which has sat on the shelf since 2018 after the previous government did not progress it, would deliver a significant saving to patients of up to $180 a year on selected medicines, while reducing costs to Government through a reduction in multiple dispensing fees.

“Pensioners and concession card holders would be among those to benefit, recognising the recent reduction in the PBS co-payment to $30 did not apply to them.

“It would free-up GP consultations with the possibility for GPs to write what is effectively a 12-month prescription for these particular medications. This is time GPs could spend with other patients who, we know, can benefit from the preventative health care GPs provide.”

In a positive development, the Minister for Health, Mark Butler, did not rule out implementing the PBAC recommendation during Question Time in the House of Representatives on Monday.

In response to a question from the Member for Kooyong, Dr Monique Ryan, he acknowledged the pressures on household budgets in filling prescriptions and said the Government was considering the PBAC recommendation.

“Obviously, we are looking at all of those options. There is a Budget process underway. We are looking at all of the options available to government to make access to health care better and easier for patients and to make the cost of health care, including the cost of medicines, even cheaper,” he said in reply to Dr Ryan.


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