Chemist Warehouse Essential Medicines Free Prescription Push
In a move that would help reduce the cost of living for Australians, Chemist Warehouse is campaigning to make some essential medicines free.
Chief Operating Officer Mario Tascone said he wants the federal government to lift restrictions on co-pays for certain Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme drugs.
“If the rules changed, we could make some drugs free,” Tascone said. A topical matter.
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New Zealand already allows co-payments of $5 to be taken by chemists, meaning some drug prescriptions are provided free of charge.
In Australia, the federal government subsidizes the cost of many drugs, but there is a co-payment of $6.80 required for concession card holders and $42.50 for general patients.
Starting January 1, 2023, this reduces to $30 for general patients.
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Nicole Weddell is a single mother on disability pension.
She pays nearly $100 a fortnight for her medication for diabetes, chronic back pain and depression.
She is struggling to make ends meet.
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“Yeah, sometimes it’s ‘Do I feed my family? Or do I take my medicine?'” Weddell said.
Weddell said the price of drugs “hurts deeply” and said his whole life was affected because of the cost.
“Unable to do anything with my children, my family, I can’t give them anything,” she said.
“Birthdays, Christmas – I try to avoid everyone.”
It’s people like Weddell that Chemist Warehouse said they wanted to help.
Tascone said we shouldn’t make vulnerable people pay for multiple drugs.
“(It) makes absolutely no sense. We are a heavy and heavily regulated industry and the more regulation the higher (the) prices, so let’s get rid of the regulation,” he said. .
“Let’s get rid of the bureaucracy, let the free market decide, let the drugs… (be) even cheaper.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia disagrees with some prescriptions being free, but said A topical matter he wants the “co-payment further reduced to $19” from the current $42.50 for general patients.
We contacted Federal Health Minister Mark Butler, who told us there were no plans to match the New Zealand government’s price initiative.
Statement from a spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia:
“The Pharmacy Guild has welcomed the government’s decision to reduce the general PBS co-payment from $42.50 per script to $30 per script from January 1, 2023.
“This will make a substantial difference to the affordability of medicines for many Australians, but it is clear that much more needs to be done, and the Guild, in its pre-budget submission, has requested that the general co-payment of the PBS is further reduced to $ 19. In some ways this may be at no cost to the taxpayer and the government.
“Our proposals ensure the universality of PBS while making drugs more affordable and minimizing deeply concerning situations where people have to choose which drugs they can afford or which family member they can buy drugs for.
“The optional $1 co-payment does not promote universal patient access to more affordable medicines, as it may mean that patients pay different amounts depending on their location and the pharmacy they visit. .
“It also provides no net financial benefit to the neediest and sickest patients who are the ones reaching the safety net.
“The amount you pay for drugs should not depend on where you live.
“Whether you live in a remote small town or in the center of a city, our healthcare system is based on the principle that you pay the same amount for the same medicine.
“The Guild is committed to working with the government to help universally reduce PBS co-payments for patients so that all can benefit.”
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