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In The News

Healthy for wallet as drugs price slashed
9th February 2005
By: Sue Dunlevy
Publication: The Australian
The Australian. Reproduced by Permission


Thirty of the most commonly prescribed medicines used to treat blood pressure, depression and digestive problems are set to fall in price after April 1.

Consumers paying $28.60 for medicines such as the anti-depressants Prozac and Cipramil and blood pressure drugs Plendil and Cardizem will pay less when new generic brands enter the market.

The savings are the result of a Federal Government measure to cut the price it pays drug companies for some medicines by 12.5 per cent.

Under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme subsidy scheme, patients pay a $28.60 charge for medicines that can cost the government between $29 and thousands of dollars.

But if the price of a medicine falls under the $28.60 patient charge, they pay less.

The Government will save around $800 million a year from the price cut which will apply when new generic drugs are listed on the PBS.

Health Minister Tony Abbott said consumers would also benefit.

He provided The Daily Telegraph with a list of medicines his department said would be cheaper from April 1.

The list included commonly prescribed blood pressure, anti-cholesterol and anti-depressant medications.

The new generic copies will by law have to be 12.5 per cent cheaper than the existing medicines before they will be listed on the PBS.

Mr Abbott's department estimated the price of at least 30 common medicines would fall below the $28.60 patient charge after the 12.5 per cent price cut.

The cut in price to the cholesterol lowering drugs Zocor and Lipex will only apply to the lowest dose of the drug (5mg), which represents only around 2-5 per cent of the market.

Pensioners and health card holders will only benefit from the price cuts if the cost of their medicine falls below the $4.60 they pay.

About 80 per cent of prescription drugs are used by pensioners or health card holders.

The Pharmacy Guild said yesterday chemists could set their own price for medicines once they fell below the $28.60 patient charge.

A spokesman said the guild could not guarantee that every pharmacist would pass on the savings to patients.

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