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Friday, 30th January 2015

Growth in Expenditure on High Cost Drugs in Australia

Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

From the Introduction:

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is one of the defining features of the Australian health care system. The Government subsidises the cost of a wide range of prescription medications to all Australian residents (who hold a Medicare card). Consumers pay a set price (currently $36.90 for general patients and $6.00 for concession card holders) and are protected from high costs by safety net arrangements. The majority of medicines on the PBS are dispensed through community pharmacies, but some medications are only available through hospitals.

Governments of all persuasions have kept a close watch on growth in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). In the ten years between 1994–95 and 2004–05, the cost of the PBS grew by nearly 13% each year. Growth has slowed since then but nevertheless, the average annual growth rate on the PBS from 2005–06 to 2013–14 has been around 4.86%....

Section 85 (s 85) of the National Health Act 1953 (the NH Act) deals with medicines that are mainly dispensed through community pharmacies, such as those medicines often prescribed by general practitioners (GPs). Medicines provided under s 85 include commonly used drugs, such as those used for the treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infections, diabetes, asthma, depression and mental health conditions. The majority of expenditure on the PBS is provided under s 85 of the Act.

Despite the trend towards contraction in growth of PBS spending overall, there are a number of PBS programs which are showing above average rates of growth. Most notably, the Efficient Funding of Chemotherapy (Chemotherapy) program had an average annual growth rate of 62.61% from 2009–10 to 2013–14.6 Further, the Highly Specialised Drug Program (HSDP) grew at an annual rate of 6.38% over the same period.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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