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Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Page: 10739

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme


Ms CATHERINE KING (Ballarat) (15:06): My question is to the Minister for Health. Can the minister confirm that he in fact took a year to list hepatitis C drugs, two years to list whooping cough vaccine and five years to list a lung cancer drug, and that the health department's own annual report shows that one in eight medicines are not listed within the government's own time frame of six months? How can this government boast about PBS listings when it has, in fact, itself been delaying life-assisting drugs?

The SPEAKER: The Minister for Health.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my left.

Mr Sukkar interjecting

Mr Tim Wilson interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Deakin! The member for Goldstein! The minister has the call.





Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health) (15:07): Well, if Kerry Packer got one Alan Bond, I get one member for Ballarort! The member for Ballarort—sorry, a Freudian slip; I apologise. The member for Ballarat—'rat'.

The SPEAKER: No, sorry. The minister—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my left—

Mr HUNT: The member for Ballarat—

The SPEAKER: No, the minister doesn't have the call. He's on mute outside this chamber at the moment. The minister will withdraw.

Mr HUNT: I withdraw. Our commitment is to list every medicine that the PBAC recommends, that the medical experts recommend, and that's what we're doing.

I note something very interesting. In terms of the lung cancer medicine to which Labor refers, Labor opposed it. They attacked the listing of this medicine, Giotrif—they criticised it; they derided it. And yet we listed it. We went ahead and listed it because it was the right thing to do. That is the difference between us: even when they seek to criticise, they cannot do it properly.

So let me give you some examples of what we have done. In relation to Keytruda, we've extended; in relation to Opdivo, we've extended. And we have more coming in relation to the immunotherapies. Furthermore, let me look at Spinraza, which the Prime Minister helped bring forward. So we are listing medicines at a faster rate, at a—

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

Ms Catherine King: On direct relevance: I actually asked about the delays that you have had in listings. Your own government's and department's annual report shows that you have a delay in one in eight medicines.

Mr HUNT: In fact, what we have done is: we have moved medicines forward at a faster rate than was the case under the previous government. Most significantly, let me give you the examples of Spinraza and Orkambi. Spinraza, for spinal muscular atrophy, was listed within weeks of the PBAC approving it. Why did that happen? That happened because of this Prime Minister, who, in his previous role as Treasurer, worked very closely with me, the health department and others to ensure that we brought forward a lifesaving medicine which would otherwise have been over $300,000 per year. In addition to that, Orkambi, again, was listed within weeks of the PBAC announcing it, but with immediate compassionate access.

So what we are doing now, on our watch, in our time, is ensuring that not only are all of the medicines of the PBAC listed—and it's a sore and sensitive point, because they have been caught out, and the people who now want to be the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia were the ones who deferred the listings of medicines when they were in government and took an axe to private health insurance, so we know they are hurting. But, more than that, we'll continue to do this, and we'll take pride in doing this, because it is one of the most important and significant things that we will do on our watch, in our time: fix up the mess that they made last time because they couldn't manage the economy. And, if you can't manage the economy, you can't manage health.

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

Ms Catherine King: I seek leave to table a document that shows the delays in listing that have happened under this government: two years for whooping cough.

The SPEAKER: Is leave granted? Leave is not granted.