The Australian Government will now allow patients to buy two months’ worth of medication for the price of one prescription from September 1.
The average patient will save up to $180 a year on medication for chronic conditions under the new scheme, including heart disease and hypertension, if their medication can be prescribed for 60 days. Concession card holders will also save up to $43.80 a year per medicine.
The change will halve medication costs for at least six million Australians, with more than 320 medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme being included.
The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, said that this policy will benefit Australians.
“This cheaper medicines policy is safe, good for Australians’ hip pockets, and most importantly good for their health,” he said.
The Pharmacy Guild’s president Professor Trent Twomey said Australia is already seeing the most medicine outages in the country’s history, with almost 500 medications already in short supply or unavailable.
“So the government needs to stop worrying about a glossy announcement, a pre-budget promise about helping the cost of living, and get the basics right first. Which means making sure everyone can get at least one box,” Professor Twomey said.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the policy change could exacerbate the severe shortages.
“Pharmacists are already struggling to get enough stock for families and older Australians,” Mr Dutton said.
The president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Dr Nicole Higgins, said this is a win for patients, and said people should “beware of scare campaigns”.
“Also, despite what you hear from the Pharmacy Guild, there is no evidence of a shortage of the medications that are included in today’s announcement,” she said.
“Some pharmacy owners may be concerned that they will lose retail sales; however, at the end of the day cheaper access to lifesaving medications must come before retail sales, it’s as simple as that.”
Health Minister Butler said that only seven of the medications included in the proposal have supply issues.
Photo: Pink Round Medication Pill by Pixabay available HERE and used under a Creative Commons License. This photo has not been modified.