SINGLETON ARGUS COLUMN 11/04/2012

Regular Column

Recently I led a parliamentary delegation to Belgium for high-level talks with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

While not a NATO member, Australia shares both values and security interests with its member’s nations.  Of course, the most important of those interests is Afghanistan but they extend to piracy, terrorism and cyber security.

Our visit reflects our deepening relationship with NATO, something I pushed as Defence Minister, to ensure we always have a seat at the decision making and planning table when NATO is discussing Afghanistan.

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Government reforms will reduce the price of more than 1000 different generic drugs, which will drop by as much as $15 per packet for patients. This is great news for millions of Australian patients who will see additional money in their pockets.

We are making sure patients have greater access to the medicines they need at reduced prices – for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, epilepsy, depression and pain.

As part of these reforms, price disclosure and other price reductions will also deliver over $1.9 billion in health savings for taxpayers over five years, which will ensure the PBS remains sustainable and that health dollars can be spent adding new life-saving drugs to the scheme.

Previously, when medicines came off-patent, they could be sold far more cheaply under different brand names, but they were still eligible for the full reimbursement amount under the PBS. Price disclosure means the price the Government subsidies medicines for is being brought into line with the market price, ensuring the cheapest possible prescriptions for patients. In fact, some of the most commonly used medicines on the PBS will be significantly cheaper.

Concessional patients will continue to pay a $5.80 co-payment only for their PBS prescriptions. The most a general patient can pay for a PBS prescription is co-payment of $35.40 (plus any special patient contributions).

Price disclosure has also reduced the special patient contribution (brand premium) on 126 brands of medicine, making them cheaper for all patients (general and concessional) who use that particular brand.

Other Government policies under the reforms will also deliver a benefit to taxpayers with an additional 12 medicines taking a price cut of 16% as a result of the first new generic types of these drugs listing as of April 1. These 16% price reductions will also deliver savings direct to some patients with many brands of the following medicines costing less than the general co-payment of $35.40.

Full details of all changes to the PBS are available at: http://www.pbs.gov.au/info/industry/pricing/eapd/price-disclosure-info-for-consumers

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I am always willing to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at www.joelfitzgibbon.com or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.

To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.


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