Consumers Health Forum of Australia has outlined key changes to ensure pharmacy can remain affordable amid Australia’s cost of living crisis.
Sixty-day prescribing is good, says the Consumers Health Forum of Australia, but 90 days would be even better.
In its pre-budget submission, CHF called for the third tranche of the program to be brought forward from 1 September to 1 July this year, for script lengths to be extended from two to three months and for PBS safety net pricing to be automated.
“While the recent 60-day prescribing program is a positive first step towards helping consumers afford medicines, more can be done,” the submission read.
“Once all currently approved 60-day prescribing medications have been implemented, PBAC can then look at the remaining PBS listed medications for consideration for longer supply including up to 90 days of supply.”
CHF also recommended that the government remove the automatic CPI indexation of PBS consumer co-payments for concessional patients and integrate the PBS Safety Net with My Health Record to automate safety net pricing.
CHF’s reasoning revolved around two flaws of the PBS that have emerged in recent years.
“The first is the automatic CPI indexation of the consumer co-payment for PBS medicines, meaning that the out-of-pocket costs for medicines rise faster than consumer wages and benefits, leading to increased unaffordability of medicines,” the submission read.
“The second is the lack of automatic application of the PBS Safety Net pricing when a consumer reached the payment threshold.”
According to CHF, the lack of automation means some consumers continue to pay full price for medicines unnecessarily, as both patients and pharmacists are unaware that the safety net threshold has been reached.
An evidence-based review of the Community Pharmacy Agreement to assess sustainability, affordability and cost effectiveness should be untaken to allow for “evidence-based, data-driven decisions for delivering affordable pharmaceuticals healthcare to consumers”, said the group.
“The Community Pharmacy Agreement is the primary funding avenue for many pharmacy services delivered to consumers and the community, some of which have out-of-pocket costs and some of which are free.
“However there has not been any evidenced-based evaluation of the programs and services delivered through the CPA program to ensure they are cost-effective, sustainable and affordable for consumers.”