More than 2000 medicine brands to drop in price

The Turnbull Government delivered a win for both consumers and taxpayers when it announced that more than 2000 medicine brands treating common conditions will drop in price from 1 October 2016.

By removing the ‘originator’ or premium brand version of the drug from pricing calculations and using the cost of cheaper generic brands instead, some brands will drop by as much as 50% or more.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley, stated that one-in-three brands on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) would be cheaper for some consumers with savings of as much as $20 per scrip per medicine – or more than $200 per annum. The savings will be even higher for Australians who take multiple medications daily.

More than 80 per cent – or about 1600 – of the 2000-plus brands of medicines set to drop in price would see a direct saving to some consumers. The remaining 20 per cent – those priced above the general PBS co-payment of $38.30 – would see a saving to taxpayers of nearly $900 million over the next 4 years by ensuring that the Government is not overpaying for medicines.

Read the press release here.

Thousands of Victorians accessing PrEP while Federal Government procrastinates

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the latest anti-retroviral medication which (when taken daily) can prevent HIV infection developing with a success rate of 96-98%. The treatment was trialled in Victoria’s first study into HIV prevention medication whereby over 1300 Victorians now access the medication.

Following the success of the first study, the Victorian Government launched PrEPX on 29 August 2016. PrEPX is a 20-month long study whereby 2600 people will receive PrEP through a partnership between the Victorian Government, Alfred Health and the Victorian AIDS Council. The Victorian Government will contribute $1.4 million towards the study.

As at the end of August, over 1300 Victorians had already signed up to the new study. The Victorian Government is calling for the Federal Government to review their decision against listing Truvada – approved PrEP medication – on the PBS and to take action in the interim to create a cost-effective solution for high risk patients.

Read the press release here.

Department of Health: Opening of the 2016-17 Aged Care Approvals Round

On 19 September 2016, Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley, announced that applications were open for the 2016-17 Aged Care Approvals Round. The successful applicants will be able to provide government-funded aged care services.

There are over 10,000 national residential aged care places and 475 Short-Term Restorative Care places open to existing and prospective aged care providers. This is the first year that Short-Term Restorative Care places will be offered. The number of places available varies among the States and Territories. In Victoria, there are 2,645 residential places and 116 Short-Term Restorative Care places.

In addition to the available places, Minister Ley announced that up to $64 million in capital grants under the Rural, Regional and Other Special Needs Building Fund will be offered to encourage investment in areas of high need and support access to residential aged care for people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

For more information please click here.


Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Bill 2016 (Vic)

The Bill (read for the second time in Parliament on 14 September 2016) aims to give Victorians greater control regarding medical treatment decisions as it recognises advance care directives for the first time in Victoria.

The Bill establishes a framework for people without decision-making capacity that ensures they receive medical treatment consistent with their preferences and values.

The Bill allows Victorians to create a legally binding advance care directive that sets out their binding instructions and values regarding future medical treatment, in the event that they lose their decision-making capacity. Ideally, the document would be prepared over time and in consultation with health practitioners, friends and family.

To ensure the person’s wishes are followed, the Bill proposes flexible interpretation of the advance care directives, recognising that people making advance care directives cannot be expected to make medically precise statements regarding treatment and therefore a decision regarding treatment may be interpreted as applying to a treatment of substantially the same type.

It is important to note that the Bill does not allow for physician-assisted dying as this was found by the Standing Committee on Legal and Social Issues to be an entirely separate legal issue.

If the Bill is passed, the default commencement date will be 12 March 2018 to allow health services, practitioners and the public to prepare for the change.

To view the Bill, click here.