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Tuesday, 28 May 2002
Page: 2545


Mr Murphy asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing, upon notice, on 20 February 2002:

(1) Is the Minister aware that the cost of many drugs and medicines available in Australia is cheaper in (sic) a number of other countries, including Sweden, the UK, Spain, the US, France and Canada.

(2) Is it a fact that Australia enjoys one of the best life expectancy outlooks in the world.

(3) Would a reduction in the number of drugs and medicines available to Australians on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) lead to a decrease in the life expectancy of Australian citizens; if so, by how much; if not, why not.

(4) Does the pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) advise the Government on what drugs and medicines are to be included or excluded from the PBS; if not, what body performs this role.

(5) Will the Minister take steps to guarantee that the considerations of the PBAC, in terms of what drugs and medicines are placed, refused or deleted from the PBS, are made available to the public and not influenced by political interference; if so, how; if not, why not.

(6) Will the Minister allow interested parties to appeal or seek a review of decisions by the PBAC; if so, how; if not, why not.


Mr Andrews (Minister for Ageing) —The Minister for Health and Ageing has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) The Minister is aware that prices received by companies for pharmaceuticals listed on Australia's PBS are lower than in a number of other countries.

(2) Yes.

(3) The answer to this question depends on the specific drugs to be excluded. Without this information, the Department is not in a position to answer this question.

(4) Yes.

(5) The PBAC is an independent expert body of doctors, health scientists, other health professionals and a consumer representative. The functions, establishment and membership of the Committee are prescribed under the National Health Act 1953.

Where assessment of an application does not result in a PBAC recommendation for a PBS listing, the full reasons for the Committee's decision is commercial-in-confidence to the manufacturer. They can be released with the manufacturer's approval.

Where assessment of an application does result in a PBAC recommendation for a PBS listing, information is made publicly available via the Department's web site which can be accessed at http://www.health.gov.au/pbs/listing/pbacrec/index.htm.

(6) Aggrieved persons may appeal against decisions of the PBAC under the Administrative Decisions Judicial Review Act 1977.

Note:

In question (1) it is assumed that what Mr Murphy meant to say was:

“Is the minister aware that the cost of many drugs and medicines available in Australia is cheaper than in a number of other countries, including Sweden, the UK, Spain, the US, France and Canada.”