Statement on Pricing of Chemotherapy Drug
The Government is committed to providing lifesaving drugs for cancer patients.
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PDF printable version of Statement on Pricing of Chemotherapy Drug (PDF 169 KB)
21 November 2012
The Government is absolutely committed to providing lifesaving drugs for cancer patients.
There has been no budget cut to chemotherapy drugs. Since 2007 we have added 30 new drugs to treat 15 different cancers at an additional cost of $1.3 billion to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Reports that a cut to the subsidy for the chemotherapy drug Docetaxel will mean hospitals will close and patients will pay more for infusions are misleading. Prices paid by cancer patients for PBS medicines are not affected by this price reduction. Pharmacists and hospitals can’t charge patients extra for PBS medicines. For cancer drugs patients pay no more than $5.80 for a concession patient or $35.40 for a general patient for the whole course of treatment with that drug.
Docetaxel is an old cancer drug, and like all off patent medicines is subject to price disclosure. On 1 December the reimbursement amount the Government pays pharmacists who dispense the drug will be brought into line with the market price – the price pharmacists pay their suppliers.
Inflated prices have meant the government has paid in some instances $2,800 above the market price for this drug.
The 1 December change is part of the government’s landmark price disclosure reform that reduces the price of more than 1000 different generic drugs by as much as $15 per packet for patients. By paying less for old, off-patent drugs, we can afford more of the newest, most innovative cancer treatments.
Until the reform came into force, for many years pharmacists had been charging the Government 20% to 50% above market price for some drugs, sometimes by thousands of dollars at a time.
The government is determined cancer patients will not miss out. If there is any evidence that the cost of delivering vital chemotherapy services needs to be looked at, the government is happy to do so. The government is happy to continue to talk to pharmacists about the cost of delivering chemo services, but the cost of the drug itself must come down.
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