Australians will soon pay less for prescriptions as the federal government proposes new laws to reduce co-payments for medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
If Parliament proposes this, it will be the first time in the plan’s 75-year history that the maximum cost of scripts will fall.
Health Secretary Mark Butler presented the proposal to parliament on Wednesday to lower the maximum co-payment under the scheme from $42.50 to $30 per prescription.
“The cost of living is skyrocketing and many Australians are cutting back on essentials to make ends meet,” he told parliament.
“This bill will help ease the pressure on the household budget for millions of Australians.”
The changes mean that someone taking one drug a month could save as much as $150 a year, or as much as $300 to $450 a year for two or three drugs.
Making prescriptions more affordable will reduce the likelihood that people will take fewer drugs than prescribed or that their prescription will not be filled at all, said Trent Twomey, president of Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
“Community pharmacies are increasingly hearing patients say they simply can’t afford their medicines, often faced with the decision of who in the family has to go without food to put food on the table or pay their bills,” said Professor Twomey.
“As well as increasing the universality of access to medicines, this is a big step in addressing pressures on the cost of living.”
Nearly $200 million in out-of-pocket costs are expected to be saved under the measure each year.
The proposal was a Labor election promise with the changes to be implemented from January 2023.