25 February 2011 In an unprecedented move that will affect thousands of Australian patients, Health Minister Nicola Roxon has refused to follow the recommendations of the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Advisory Committee to subsidise seven medicines and vaccines through the PBS.
The Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, Peter Dutton, said it was the height of hypocrisy that only a week after the Gillard Government again claimed to have fixed the health system, Nicola Roxon has left thousands of Australians in indefinite limbo.
“The Gillard Government is now vetoing decisions of the PBAC for political and fiscal reasons and this is a very worrying precedent for patients in need of vital medicines,” Mr Dutton said.
“Nicola Roxon’s actions completely undermine the PBS as a world class system that provides access to medicines and has enjoyed bi-partisan support for decades.
“This move will leave patients with schizophrenia, chronic pain and lung disease, amongst others, potentially thousands of dollars out of pocket each year or choosing to forgo treatment.
“It is unconscionable that a Government that is spending over $20 billion over the next four years on interest payments is targeting vulnerable patients for savings and ignoring the advice of its own expert committee.”
“It is typical of the Gillard Government’s tricky tactics to make this announcement after the Parliamentary sitting week has concluded in an attempt to avoid scrutiny,” Mr Dutton said.
The Gillard Government has provided no timeline for patients for reconsideration of the medicines and vaccines it has deferred.
“This is just further evidence that the Gillard Government is preoccupied with exploiting the political and media opportunities in health rather than ensuring quality patient care,” Mr Dutton said.