Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon recently met with an
alliance of consumer, industry and other stakeholders to
justify the government’s plan to indefinitely delay the listing
of seven new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
(PBS). She argued that, after considering the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), it was the government’s responsibility to decide whether or not to list a new drug,
taking into account other priorities across the health portfolio and
current fiscal circumstances.
Clearly, the cost of the PBS must be sustainable. However, there
are other ways of reducing its cost apart from delaying the listing of
drugs recommended by PBAC as cost-effective. The treatment of
macular degeneration provides an illustrative example.