30 September 2011 The Gillard Government today announced there will be further “deferrals into the future” for new medicines being subsidised on the PBS.
In February this year, the Government indefinitely deferred the listing of seven new medicines and a vaccine recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) due to its “fiscal circumstances”.
Facing broad condemnation and following the scathing findings of a Senate Inquiry, the Health Minister has today been forced to back-down and list the remaining medicines.
However, in today’s announcement, the Government has only committed to not deferring “drugs that cost under $10 million a year for the coming year”.
Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said it is a token gesture and does nothing to restore confidence in the PBS.
“The Gillard Government’s belated back-down on the February deferrals is welcomed news for the patients and families that have been denied access to those medicines, but the uncertainty for the PBS is set to continue,” Mr Dutton said.
“This Government has trashed a transparent evidence-based system for listing new medicines which received bi-partisan support over many years and was widely respected.”
“The Minister last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide policy certainty for the sector in return for savings and only months later made an unprecedented policy u-turn.”
“Clearly this is a Minister that cannot be trusted and the promises to again work with stakeholders ring hollow.”
“We don’t know which patients into the future are going to be denied access to their medicines and on what grounds,” Mr Dutton said.
“A drug that prevents strokes and would benefit up to 300,000 patients hasn’t been listed today despite being recommended six months ago by the PBAC and found to be ‘safe, efficacious and cost effective’.”
“The continuing policy uncertainty means companies will reconsider the costly process of listing new medicines in Australia.”
“The Coalition again calls on the Gillard Government to rule out further deferrals and to subsidise new medicines according to the independent advice of the PBAC,” Mr Dutton said.