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No relief in sight for osteoarthritis sufferers

CHANGE IN SUBSIDIES: Pharmacist Campbell Gradon with a number of medications that will go up in price from January 1.
CHANGE IN SUBSIDIES: Pharmacist Campbell Gradon with a number of medications that will go up in price from January 1. Mike Knott BUNPRICE

FEDERAL Health Minister Sussan Ley has asked her department to alert the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about plans by the makers of Panadol Osteo to increase the drug's price by 50% today.

From January 1, 17 common medicines, including Panadol Osteo, that are readily available over-the-counter and also through prescription will have their PBS listing altered or removed.

The listing changes will affect medicines used to treat a range of conditions, such as blood clot prevention, osteoarthritis-related pain, heartburn and reflux, eye infection, itchy skin and iron deficiency anaemia.

GlaxoSmithKline Australia, the makers of Panadol Osteo, has announced that as a result of the PBS de-listing, it will increase its manufacturer price from $4.28 to $6.31 for a pack of 96 Panadol Osteo.

As a result, the wholesale price for a pack of 96 Panadol Osteo is rising from $4.45 to $6.65.

Ms Ley said there were no obvious market changes that justified such a substantial increase of Panadol Osteo.

"Therefore, attempts by the makers of Panadol Osteo to link their proposed 50% price increase to government regulatory changes without any detail to support their claims can only be interpreted as an attempt to mislead consumers and pharmacists," she said.

Crofton St Pharmacy manager Campbell Gradon said Panadol Osteo sold more units at his pharmacies than any other PBS drug.

He said at Bargara Pharmacy Central the product was sold 1345 times in the past six months.

"Instead of taking regular paracetamol four times a day osteoarthritis customers can take this three times a day," he said.

"We have been letting customers know that the products are coming off the PBS so as of today it won't be funded anymore."

Mr Gradon said there would be generic products, such as Osteomol that would be available and cost competitive.

He said it was inevitable that without the price control protection the PBS provided, that prices would rise for certain medications.

"I don't see how the government didn't foresee that by removing price control, the cost would not stay stable," he said.

"AFT (Pharmaceuticals) has already signalled their iron tablets - Ferro-Tab and Ferro-F-Tab - are going to go up by 45%."

The Pharmacy Guild has written to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee asking for a review of the de-listing from the PBS of a number of commonly used medicines that are also available without a prescription.

Topics:  osteoarthritis, sussan ley



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