By Laura SillarsThe Australian public will be “stolen” by pharmaceutical companies, if they are given the right to prescribe and dispense ocd drugs, the government has warned.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has asked the Federal Government to include a provision in its proposed Pharmaceutical Benefits Amendment Bill that would allow pharmaceutical companies to “make the same” claims for ocd treatments as they already do for other medical treatments.
The move comes after an Independent Review of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBR) found the Government has a duty to ensure the PBS is fair and equitable, and that all PBS products are treated fairly.
“We know that many Australians are struggling to access their PBS entitlements, or are being priced out of the PBS in the hope of a better deal,” Dr David Lappin, an Australian expert on health policy and pharmaceuticals at the Australian National University, told Business Insider.
“A number of drugs are not being covered by the PBS, and this could be one of the ways that those drugs are being sold.”
“We are also concerned that some of these drugs, such as some of the new ocd medicines, have been promoted as being of lower cost, but these are not always the case,” Dr Lappint added.
The PBS is a national health insurance scheme that is available to Australians regardless of their income or occupation.
The Government has promised to make it easier for Australians to access the scheme by expanding it to include prescription and non-prescription products, and allowing Australians to take their medicines out of pharmacy and use them on their own.
But the move would not extend the PBS to “other medical treatments” and it is not clear how the government would enforce that in the future.
“If we take it to the next level, we may not be able to enforce it in the way we would like,” Dr Sillar said.
“And that is the problem with making the claim that the PBS has been unfair.”
What we are trying to do is ensure that there are standards that apply to the PBS and that they are fair and just, so that Australians can be fully protected from these sorts of things.
“The PBS has long been criticised for not providing adequate coverage of medical treatments, with the Government relying on a voluntary system for reporting drugs to the government.
But last year, a parliamentary inquiry found that the system did not work properly and the Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Committee has since recommended the system be reformed.”
It is a very important point in the public health case, and the PBS needs more robust reporting of drugs in the PBS,” he said.”
I don’t think we need to have a system where we don’t even have to report the medicines that are being marketed, which has been a big problem.”
“It is a very important point in the public health case, and the PBS needs more robust reporting of drugs in the PBS,” he said.
The Government will be seeking advice from the PBS before finalising the new legislation.
There is also the issue of who will be covered if people can’t access PBS medicines.
If you’re not covered by PBS and don’t take your medication, your entitlements could be stripped.
As the Government prepares to unveil the new package, Dr Lapps told Business Australia that the government was considering how to deal with the issue.
“As we look at this we have got to look at all the different elements of the system that are not covered in the system, how does the system work, and what are the implications for those that are?” he said.””
And we’re also looking at how do we make sure that we are not compromising on people’s access to PBS and our national health system, particularly when we’re talking about young people and people with disabilities.
“The new legislation will be tabled next week, and it will be introduced to the Senate on February 20.