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Catholic health says pharmaceutical benefits cuts unnecessary


Catholic Health Australia's (CHA) Budget Analysis has described proposed cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as "a blunt instrument which overestimates savings, worsens health outcomes and increases other health and welfare costs".

"The budget measures are likely to have a negative affect on health outcomes since the new drug prices will decrease demand for pharmaceuticals and place extra pressure on GPs and hospitals," said CEO Francis Sullivan. "These measures fly in the face of international research, which clearly shows the economic benefit of public expenditure on pharmaceuticals."

Mr Sullivan said: "Increasing drug prices for poor and sick people is regressive. The new charges will hit families the hardest."

He pointed out that economic modelling shows the poorest families already spend a much higher proportion of their income on medicines than higher income earners. In 2000-2001, the poorest were spending 7% of their income on pharmaceuticals. Those at the top end of town were only paying 2 per cent.

"CHA suggests the 13.5% growth of the PBS during the 1990s was sustainable. This growth was from a low base, and by international standards, Australia is not a high spender on pharmaceuticals. Australia has successfully negotiated prices for imported drugs below the world prices, applied co-payments to drugs that are often free elsewhere, delayed new drug listing and set the HIC on GPs who have unusual prescriber patterns."

LINKS
Catholic Health Australia's Federal Budget 2002 Analysis
Catholic Health Australia's Federal Budget 2002 Submission
Families will pay says opposition (Courier Mail 14/5/02)
Budget facing Senate battering (The Age 15/5/02)

SOURCE
CHA

17 May 2002