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Wednesday, 17 April 1985
Page: 1329

(Question No. 138)

Mr Beddall asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 19 March 1985:

Is it a fact that there have been cutbacks in the availability of prescribed drugs to aged pensioners; if so, are the cutbacks part of Government policy.

Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme aims to have a comprehensive range of drugs and medicinal preparations available on a subsidised basis to all persons being treated by a medical practitioner in Australia.

There is an ongoing process of review of the drugs available as benefits. Drugs are added to or removed from the Pharmaceutical Benefits list following recommendations made on therapeutic grounds by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). The PBAC is the statutory committee established under the National Health Act to provide me as Minister for Health with advice on the drugs and medicinal preparations that are to be made available as pharmaceutical benefits.

Drugs may also be removed from the Pharmaceutical Benefits list if discontinued by their manufacturer and no longer available on the market.

There are no pharmaceutical benefits specifically listed for the treatment of pensioners. Routine amendments to the Pharmaceutical Benefits list affect all categories of persons, including pensioners.

The Government is not pursuing a policy of cutback in the availability of prescribed drugs either to pensioners or to other persons.