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Patient benefit is the only option worth considering in PBS reform: AMA.

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Australian Medical Association Limited ABN 37 008 426 793

42 Macquarie Street, Barton ACT 2600: PO Box 6090, Kingston ACT 2604 Telephone: (02) 6270 5400 Facsimile (02) 6270 5499 Website :


AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said today that the only options or models the Government should be looking at with any proposed reforms of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) are ones that improve access to safe, high quality affordable medicines.

It was reported in The Australian Financial Review that the Government is looking at a number of economic models as it seeks to cut as much as $850 million a year from the PBS.

Dr Haikerwal said access, quality and safety of medicines must always come before the dollars and cents issues of the PBS.

“Any changes to the PBS must first ensure the best health outcomes, not simply economic bottom lines.

“The Government should be talking to the medical profession about improving the PBS, not economic modellers.

“There has to be more consultation about this key pillar of the Australian health system.

“The big test of any changes to the PBS is retaining savings within it and passing on any cost savings to patients so that life saving and life enhancing drugs are more affordable, especially for the elderly, the chronically ill and the disadvantaged.

“It would seem sensible that doctors be consulted because we have the daily task of judging the pros and cons of any prescription.

“It is our job to protect public health and promote quality patient care. Doctors talk to patients about medicines every day.

“There is no financial benefit to doctors from PBS changes, just better tools to do the work we do. The beneficiaries of cost savings should be the patients and the broader community.

“Strong Government investment in the PBS now takes the pressure off other parts of the health system, especially public hospitals, further down the track - it is an investment in our future.

“Our PBS is the envy of the world and we should be proud of it and preserve it.

“Any change to the PBS must be discussed out in the open with the medical profession, other stakeholders and the public - not through unnamed Government sources in the newspapers,” Dr Haikerwal said.

6 December 2005

CONTACT: John Flannery (02) 6270 5477 / (0419) 494 761