The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme [PBS] is an Australian Government programme of subsidised prescription drugs, aiming to ensure all Australians have affordable access to necessary medications . The PBS was established in 1948, and PBS medicines were free until 1960 when user co-payment charges began. The 1960 co-payment was 5 shillings (i.e. 50 cents). In 1990 it was A$10, and in 2010 A$33.30 . In 1948 the PBS cost the government £149,000 (i.e. A$7.6M in 2009 dollars). In 2009 its actual government cost was A$6.5B. The reasons for this massive cost increase since 1948 include the number and cost of PBS drugs, the range of medical conditions treated by them, and our population size. To reinforce this, here are three Tables of data on the top 10 subsidised drugs in 2009-10 . Atorvastatin (trade name Lipitor, used to lower blood lipid levels) tops all three Tables. In 2009-10 over 11M Lipitor prescriptions were written, and it cost the government a massive A$633M. Each day in 2009-10, 69 people per 1,000 population (i.e. 6.9%) took a standard dose of it (or 81 people counting combination products). Other similar drugs – simvastatin (Zocor) and rosuvatatin (Crestor) – feature in these Tables too. So as a nation we eat unhealthy foods which raise our blood lipid levels which are treated by expensive drugs which cost our government, and thus us, over A$1B annually. Me? I reckon the government should whack up the tax on fatty foods. Will it happen? Fat chance. Ho hum.
4 days ago