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Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Page: 10954

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme


Ms CATHERINE KING (Ballarat) (14:57): My question is to the Minister for Health. Is the minister aware that his own department—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat will pause. The Treasurer and others will cease interjecting. I'm going to allow the questioner to ask the question in a manner that I can hear it.

Ms CATHERINE KING: Is the minister aware that his own department provided a list yesterday of 83 medicines that have been recommended by the independent experts but not listed on the PBS? Is the minister aware that the list includes medicines that were recommended as far back as 2016? How can the minister stand by his previous answer on PBS listings when he has delayed access to some life-saving drugs for more than two years?




Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health) (14:58): Let me make this absolutely clear. I did a little bit more research on their claims yesterday. I saw the list that the member for Ballarat put out—I think it was in August—of eight medicines that she claimed had been deferred. None of them had been deferred by government policy. And, do you know what? I looked at two things. I looked at major new listings that we've done recently and then I looked at what they did. These are the major new listings that we've done recently: breast cancer, Kisqali; SMA, Spinraza; cystic fibrosis, Kalydeco; cystic fibrosis, Orkambi—all done within 3½ months.

The SPEAKER: The Minister for Health will pause. If the member for Ballarat is rising on a point of order on direct relevance, the minister is only about 30 or 40 seconds into his answer. I'm listening carefully. She can raise the point of order now—it doesn't bother me—but that will be it.

Ms Catherine King: I'll wait, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER: Okay. The Minister for Health has the call.

Mr HUNT: Well, that was effective! In terms of the list last published by the member for Ballarat: very interestingly, she claims that a hepatitis C medicine was deferred. We did a little bit of research and we discovered that the company, even though they wanted the listing, didn't have the medicine available and requested that the government delay until they had the medicine, so that, once it was announced, they could supply immediately. That medicine is Mavyret for hepatitis C, the company is AbbVie and the advice was provided by the company. But the total period for the medicine she talked about was an average of eight months to listing. Then I compared that with Labor's deferred medicines—the seven medicines that they deliberately delayed by policy. An average of—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The member for Ballarat on a point of order.

Ms Catherine King: On direct relevance: I was asking about the information provided by the minister's own department overnight that shows that you have not listed 83 medicines, some from as far back as 2016.

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat will resume her seat.

Mr Hunt interjecting

The SPEAKER: I've just got to call the minister, then he can go. The minister has the call.

Mr HUNT: Our policy is absolutely clear. We will list every medicine that the PBAC recommends. Their policy was absolutely clear: that they would defer the listing of medicines until such time as fiscal circumstances permitted. I also did a little bit more research, as to the Senate committee. And what did the Senate committee say about their policy at the time? 'It constitutes a major unnecessary and unwelcome change in government policy.' What did the Consumers Health Forum say?

Consumers do not want a situation in which drugs are listed on the PBS to win votes or boost opinion polls.

That was what they said about the Labor government and the Labor policy at the time. What did SANE Australia say about the Labor government and the Labor policy at the time?

The decision to defer the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Council … to list medications jeopardises the integrity of the PBS process.

So now is the time for the member for Ballarat to apologise for incompetently misleading the House yesterday, in relation to hepatitis C and in relation, in particular, to whooping cough. Caught out—caught red-handed. And time to apologise.

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat, seeking to table a document.

Ms Catherine King: I'm seeking leave to table the notice that we received from your own department of the 83 medicines that you have delayed.

Leave not granted.