Medication costs to be slashed, but at what cost?
CHRONICALLY-ill patients, non-concession card holders and the Federal Government will be the big winners when prescription medication costs are slashed from tomorrow.
But Bundaberg pharmacies maintain they will be among the losers as generic margins will be further cut meaning vital pharmacy services like prescription deliveries could soon be gone.
More than 2000 medicine brands will reduce in price as of today, with sufferers of common ailments including diabetes, anxiety, high blood pressure and high cholesterol saving up to $20 per script according to the government.
These savings are the result of the PBS Access and Sustainability Package reforms which passed Parliament last year.
Health Minister Sussan Ley said the reforms would deliver a significant win for taxpayers.
Coral Coast Pharmacies director and pharmacist David Holmes said independent pharmacies were already under stress and this latest price cut could deliver a crippling blow to struggling pharmacies.
Mr Holmes said non-concessional card holders made up a small proportion of his customers and for those with concession cards there would be no difference in costs.
"Of our pharmacies about 10% of our scripts are for non-concession holders,” he said.
Mr Holmes said out-of-stock situations could become worse than they already were as manufacturers had less incentive to supply medicines on time.
"There are already drugs where there is a supply problem because they are cutting down on their supply on life-saving medication such as Metformin for diabetes,” he said.
Bundaberg pharmacist Campbell Gradon said pharmacies and wholesalers would need to reduce stock holdings in the build up to October 1 to reduce the effect of reduced values of items from October 1.
"More and more products will be removed from the PBS as manufacturers no longer break even,” he said.
Ms Ley said the savings from the PBS Access and Sustainability Package are already being used to subsidise breakthrough medicines, like the melanoma treatment Keytruda, which was added to the PBS last year.
Savings for non-consessional patients
Alendronic acid with colecalciferol up to $23.37
Alendronic acid with colecalciferol and calcium up to $23.37
Cefalotin up to $13.27
Methotrexate up to $10.91
Fosinopril with hydrochlorothiazide up to $10.63
Enalapril with hydrochlorothiazide up to $10.06
Flucloxacillin up to $8.29
Temozolomide up to $6.93
Pioglitazone up to $6.72
Donepezil up to $6.60