Date published: 
1 October 2017
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Turnbull Government is continuing to make medicines more affordable with new drugs being subsidised and price reductions for more than 1,400 medications coming into effect today.

Millions of Australians suffering from a range of health conditions will benefit from lower priced medications – with savings worth more than half a billion dollars for patients and taxpayers over the next four years.

People with conditions including high blood pressure, mental health conditions, certain types of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis will pay less for their medicines.

Some of the medications that are now cheaper for general patients include:

  • Tamoxifen for breast cancer – around 84,000 scripts (for 20,000 patients) will be up to $3.50 (or 11.6%) cheaper per script.
  • Leflunomide for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis – around 78,000 scripts (for 17,000 patients) will be up to $4.24 (or 11.4%) cheaper per script.
  • Telmisartan for high blood pressure – around 1.28 million scripts (for 160,000 patients) will be up to $1.75 (or 9.3%) cheaper per script.
  • Quetiapine for mental health conditions – around 190,000 scripts (for 48,000 patients) will be up to $5.94 (or 20.7%) cheaper per script; and
  • Capecitabine for certain types of cancer – around 17,000 scripts (for 4,300 patients) will be up to $6.26 (or 18.7%) cheaper per script.

For the many Australians who take multiple medications daily, the savings will be considerable.

These reductions will also deliver estimated savings to taxpayers of $430 million over the next four years, with additional savings to patient out-of-pocket costs estimated at $75 million over the next four years.

These savings are part of more than $24 billion in savings estimated to be achieved by 2020-21, since PBS reforms began in 2007.

From today, a new medicine to treat schizophrenia will be available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – giving more patients access to affordable life-improving mental illness treatment.

Brexpiprazole (Rexulti®) provides patients with an alternative treatment to the currently listed oral antipsychotics. It works by rebalancing dopamine and serotonin to improve thinking, mood and behaviour.

This is the 12th new or amended PBS listing for patients with mental illness since the Coalition came into Government.

Mental health is an issue of national importance and a key element of the Turnbull Government’s Long Term National Health Plan.

Four million Australians will have a mental health episode each year, affecting almost every family either directly or indirectly.

Schizophrenia is when a patient suffers from delusional beliefs, hallucinations, disorganised thinking and speech, cognitive impairment, abnormal motor behaviour and negative symptoms.

The independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended listing brexpiprazole, recognising that there is a clinical need for a broad range of medicines to treat mental illness.

Patients would pay around $1,733 per year without subsidised access. Now, general patients will pay only a maximum of $38.80 per script, with concessional patients paying just $6.30.

Unlike Labor, we are subsidising all drugs recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Labor delayed the listing of seven vital drugs – including a drug for schizophrenia. This left important medicines out of reach for many Australian patients.

Since coming into Government, the Coalition has helped improve the health of Australians by adding around $7.5 billion worth of medicines to the PBS.

PBS listings are published on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits, which is available through the PBS website.