Access To Medicines

Medicines keep patients out of hospital, shorten hospital stays when they are required, reduce the number of surgical procedures and delay the need for aged care.

However a recent report concluded Australia had ranked in the lower third when it came to patient access and public coverage of new medicines in industrialised countries. Similarly, the RX&D International Report on Access to Medicines 2009-10 ranked Australia 23rdout of 31 OECD countries in terms of expenditure on medicines as a proportion of GDP. In essence this report measures the willingness of governments to pay for new innovative pharmaceuticals and Australia doesn’t stack up too well.

Medical technologies like medicines and medical devices play an important role in improving the health of Australians as well as the economy yet the Federal Government views the PBS as a cost rather than an investment in keeping Australians healthier and out of hospital.

Australians are also waiting longer for new life-saving and life-enhancing medicines. The time it takes for Federal Cabinet to approve a new medicine to be listed on the PBS has increased from 6.7 months to 10 months. That’s an additional 10 months after the medicine has been reviewed by a variety of expert bodies for its cost-effectiveness, and it’s an additional 10 months that patients have to wait for new therapies.

It makes no sense that patients are being made to wait an additional 10 months for sometimes life-saving treatments by a bureaucratic process when those medicines have already been rigorously evaluated.

Tell us about your experience of access to medicines.