Labor says one thing before the election and another after
To ensure the long-term viability of the $5 billion Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the Federal Government is undertaking programs to educate the public and prescribers about the proper use of medicines, the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.
5 September 2002
Labor says one thing before the election and another afterTo ensure the long-term viability of the $5 billion Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the Federal Government is undertaking programs to educate the public and prescribers about the proper use of medicines, the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.
The Government has allocated $50 million over four years to undertake the vital task of ensuring consumers, doctors and pharmacists are informed about the safe and effective prescribing of medicines in accordance with best practice.
Senator Patterson was disappointed that Opposition Leader Simon Crean and Labor health spokesman, Stephen Smith, had sought to misrepresent the Government's community awareness program.
As part of the on-going awareness campaign, the Federal Government was considering a $27 million campaign to educate the public about the operations of the PBS and the true costs of medicines, Senator Patterson said.
She rejected Federal Opposition claims that the Government would spend the money on advertising planned increases in co-payments for the PBS.
Senator Patterson said the Government had adopted a broad strategy, which was aimed at securing the future of the PBS and ensuring that it provided timely, reliable and affordable access to the community for necessary and cost-effective medicines.
"Part of this approach to secure the future of the PBS is to educate the public and prescribers about the proper use of medicines," she said.
"We are enlisting the support of the groups such as the National Prescribing Service, which will embark on a program of educating both doctors and consumers.
"Without the PBS, medicines would be too expensive for many people to afford. The long-term viability of the PBS is vital to the health of all Australians.
"We must all responsibly use the resources of the PBS to ensure it is sustainable and equitable for all Australians.
"This is exactly the approach advocated by Labor."
Senator Patterson said only three months ago, Opposition health spokesman Stephen Smith had said on May 16, 2002: "But there is a range of long-term sensible measures which you can take; which, for example, go to the openness and accountability of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee; which go to the transparency of the scheme so that consumers understand the cost and the issues involved; which go to ensuring that the community is aware of the cost of the scheme."
Senator Patterson said: "That is what he had to say three months ago. What does he say now? He attacks the Government for doing exactly what he supported back in May.
"Labor during the last election supported awareness campaigns for consumers and doctors. Or should I say they paid lip-service to it. The amount allocated for these programs was zero.
"Unlike Labor, we do not live in an economic fantasyland. To achieve these objectives we have allocated real dollars to ensure that the public and doctors are informed about the PBS.
"Mr Smith says one thing before the election and another after."
Media Contact: Randal Markey, Media Adviser, 0417 694 520