13 May 2011 The Budget has shown the Gillard Government’s folly in refusing expert advice to list crucial new drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
‘Prevenar 13 catch up’ was one of eight medications the Gillard Labor Cabinet refused in February to subsidise either on the PBS or the National Immunisation Program.
Now the government has realised that it’s refusal to list the drug left babies susceptible to several strains of pneumococcal disease and has budgeted $40 million to vaccinate babies between 12 and 35 months of age in a year long program from October.
Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said the reversal highlighted Gillard Labor’s muddled, misguided thinking and how their spendthrift ways were directly hurting Australians with various illnesses.
“The government’s own experts - the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits
Advisory Committee - said Prevenar 13 catch up and seven other important new medications should be subsidised to make them available and affordable to thousands of Australian patients who desperately need them,” Mr Dutton said.
“But because the Gillard Government has emptied the national bank accounts and run up a massive debt, it can’t afford to do so.”
“They’ve now realised they need to fund a vital vaccine that protects babies against pneumococcal, but patients needing the seven other medications have to suffer without access to them.”
Worse, Mr Dutton said, the Budget documents confirm the new treatments will continue to be deferred from PBS listing until the government’s “fiscal circumstances” change.
“Given that this government has never delivered a surplus that could be a very long time.”
It means that patients with chronic disabling pain, schizophrenia, lung disease and blood clots will either go without them or pay hundreds of dollars for drugs rather than the PBS co-payment of $34.20, the Shadow Minister said.
“This government’s financial mismanagement has a direct, costly and painful result for those Australians – this is a government that is prepared to hurt its own citizens.”