Health Budget demonstrates commitment to medicines sector

Members of the Medicines Partnership of Australia (MPA), the nation’s pharmaceutical supply chain peak body, have welcomed key initiatives toward stability and ongoing support for the pharmaceutical sector announced as part of this year’s Federal Budget.

A five-year Strategic Agreement with Medicines Australia will deliver an estimated $1.8 billion in savings to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) that will be reinvested into the supply chain, enhance patient access to the latest innovative medicines, fund process improvements and provide significant taxpayer savings.

“In assessing the Health Budget, the MPA acknowledges that the needs of its members have been carefully considered. While there is substantial provision for more to be done, Minister Hunt has responded to pertinent issues around the stability and sustainability of the supply chain, patient access to medicines and certainty for the innovative medicines industry,” MPA Chair Donna Staunton said.

“The Australian pharmaceutical industry has been identified as one of the key sectors for our nation’s future economic success and the measures in the Budget are encouraging to the entire medicines supply chain,” she said.

Medicines Australia Chairman Wes Cook said that the Strategic Agreement with the Commonwealth provided much needed policy stability and provides a base from which to grow investment in the industry from within Australia and overseas.

“This Agreement upholds the key principles sought by Medicines Australia, such as the need for policy predictability and certainty for the industry; acknowledgment that the industry is currently delivering savings through recent reforms and that additional savings generated for taxpayers will be reinvested into new medicines on the PBS,” Mr Cook said.

“The Agreement ends a long period of uncertainty and will improve industry confidence to continue to bring innovative medicines to Australia and to invest in local research and development, such as clinical trials.”

The Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association has welcomed initiatives to increase the use of affordable medicines, and a two-year extension to its Strategic Agreement with the Commonwealth.

“The biosimilar uptake drivers, amendments to price disclosure and enhancements to prescribing software announced in the Budget are important to ensure a sustainable PBS, increase patient access to affordable medicines, and support the viability of the industry that supplies them,” GBMA Chair Allan Tillack said.

It is anticipated that the increased prescription of generics and biosimilar will have a flow-on effect for Australia’s community pharmacies who fill a critical role in the supply chain and have suffered from years of PBS cuts.

“The Pharmacy Guild is pleased to have reached  a Budget agreement with the Turnbull Government that supports community pharmacies in return for the provision of additional services for patients and ongoing reform. This is a positive outcome for Australia’s community pharmacies, many of which are doing it tough after years of PBS savings measures,” George Tambassis, National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said.

The peak national body for pharmacists, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomed the investment by the Federal Government in Australia’s vital and established community pharmacy network. PSA National Vice President Michelle Lynch said, “While the commitment to community pharmacy programs is excellent news for pharmacists and consumers, there is a significant opportunity missed in the Budget for further maximising the role of pharmacists – the most accessible health professionals in Australia – especially in terms of innovation and delivering new, evidence-based services.”

As a consequence of medicines funding changes, Australia’s full-line CSO wholesalers will be compensated for the impact on their remuneration from cuts to the prices of medicines on the PBS.

“Our commitment is to provide Australians access to quality and affordable medicines and we welcome this funding agreement that will correct a short-term imbalance,” NPSA Chairman Mark Hooper said.

“As the Government has demonstrated it understands the issues we face, we are hopeful they will address our remuneration issues for the longer-term as set out in our submission to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation,” Mr Hooper said.

The Australian Self Medication Industry anticipates no Budget impacts for over-the-counter medicines.

Contact: Donna Staunton 0413 185 724