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Thursday, 8 February 2007
Page: 8

Ms ROXON (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. What will the minister do to guarantee that no Australian parent has to go without needed medication for their sick children because of expensive brand premiums being charged under the very system designed by the government? Given the cost of living pressures on working families, why does the minister only act when these problems hit the front page?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Health and Ageing) —Mr Speaker, I do thank her for the question because it is a fair one. I can confirm that about 20 per cent of PBS scripts are dispensed with a premium. I can also confirm that this premium averages about $3.

Ms Roxon interjecting

Mr ABBOTT —Let me tell her that the average is about $3.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The minister has the call!

Mr ABBOTT —I point out for the benefit of the rather inexperienced shadow minister for health that under the rules, which she should know, there is always a clinically appropriate drug available at the co-payment price. Finally, I point out to her that, under the PBS reforms that the government announced late last year, pharmacists will receive an additional and higher dispensing fee for dispensing drugs without a premium, and that should substantially address this issue.