Data on the expenditure on operating NSPs in Australia during the 1990s was sought from all State and Territory health authorities by way of a standard survey instrument. A spreadsheet with explanatory comments and notes was provided to all authorities, with the request that they complete the fields as far as available data enabled.

Expenditure was identified under the following components:

  • Overhead and infrastructure expenditure;
  • Direct operating expenditure on public NSPs;
  • Subsidies paid to community pharmacies; and
  • Consumer expenditure.
All States and Territories provided the data sought, though to varying degrees of completion. In nearly all instances, data was provided for at least the last three to five years of the study period. Where data was not available, estimates were imputed for each component, based on trends within that component for the respective State/Territory. Table 4.2.1 illustrates the aggregate expenditure on NSPs across Australia for the period 1990/91 to 1999/2000, expressed in Year 2000 prices.

Over the decade, a total of $150 million (Year 2000 prices) was expended on NSPs across Australia, comprised of $130 million (87%) by government, and $20 million (13%) in consumer expenditure. Overhead and infrastructure costs ($7 million) accounted for 5% of government expenditure, with direct operating costs of public NSPs ($106 million) accounting for a further 81%, and subsidies paid to community pharmacies for NSP services ($18 million) the remaining 14%.

After adjusting for inflation over the period, total expenditure on NSPs increased by 2.3 times over the ten years. Figure 4.1 illustrates the growth in real expenditure of the various components over the ten-year period.

It should be noted that the data presented above covers expenditure on NSPs operating within the programs managed by State and Territory health authorities. Many retail pharmacies also sell needles and syringes on a commercial basis, for which reliable data is not available on the number of needles sold or the level of expenditure by consumers. The relative activity of the retail market in this area varies considerably between States (eg in Queensland, an estimated 5 million needles are distributed through the retail market). Costs of needle and syringes bought through the retail market are borne by consumers rather than through government subsidy. Consequently the total investment by consumers in needle and syringes may be understated in the analysis. For the purposes of illustration, sensitivity analysis has been conducted to assess the impact of doubling the above expenditure figures, and is presented in Section 4.8.
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Table 4.2.1 Expenditure on NSPs, Australia, 1990-91 to 1999-2000 ($'000)1

1990-19911991-19921992-19931993-19941994-19951995-19961996-19971997-19981998-19991999-2000Total
Overhead and Infrastructure Costs
$441
$455
$530
$560
$541
$539
$714
$757
$841
$1,153
$6,531
Direct Operating Expenditure on Public NSPs
$7,215
$7,730
$8,172
$8,710
$9,089
$10,251
$12,213
$13,250
$13,690
$15,243
$105,562
Subsidies to Community Pharmacies
$826
$1,045
$1,129
$1,318
$1,497
$1,551
$2,079
$2,347
$2,975
$3,278
$18,045
Consumer Costs
$1,091
$1,183
$1,608
$1,905
$1,865
$1,555
$2,043
$2,625
$2,930
$3,001
$19,807
Total Government Direct Expenditure
$8,042
$8,774
$9,301
$10,028
$10,586
$11,802
$14,292
$15,597
$16,664
$18,521
$123,607
Total Government Expenditure
$8,483
$9,230
$9,831
$10,589
$11,127
$12,341
$15,006
$16,354
$17,505
$19,673
$130,138
Total Expenditure
$9,574
$10,413
$11,438
$12,494
$12,992
$13,897
$17,048
$18,979
$20,435
$22,674
$149,944

1 Year 2000 Prices

Figure 4.1 Expenditure on NSPs, 1990-91 to 1999-2000 (Year 2000 Prices)

Text equivalent below for Figure 4.1 Expenditure on NSPs, 1990-91 to 1999-2000 (Year 2000 Prices)
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Text version of Figure 4.1

Figures in this description are approximate as they have been read from the graph.

Figure 4.1 shows NSP expenditure in the financial years during the period 1990-91 to 1999-2000:
  • Overhead and infrastructure costs remained below $2,000,000 for the whole period.

  • Direct operating costs increased gradually from $7,000,000 in 1990-1991 to $10,500,000 in 1995-96, before increasing at a faster rate to $15,500,000 in 1999-2000.

  • Subsidies to community pharmacies increased very gradually from $1,000,000 in 1990-1991 to $3,500,000 in 1999-2000.

  • Consumer fees increased very gradually from $1,100,000 in 1990-1991 to $3,000,000 in 1999-2000.

  • Total costs increased gradually from $9,000,000 in 1990-1991 to $14,000,000 in 1995-96, before increasing sharply to $23,000,000 in 1999-2000.
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