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Hunter residents to benefit from lower cost of PBS medicines

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Hunter residents are set to benefit from the new, lower cost of PBS medicines, which came into effect on New Year’s Day.

From 1 January, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment for general patients will reduce from $42.50 to $30.

The amount is then expected to be indexed on the first day of every new year, from 2024.

The reduction will see non‑concessional patients save $12.50 on PBS medicines that are priced at or above the current general co-payment.

Pharmacists won’t have to do anything to apply the changes either, as software systems will automatically update.

The move follows Parliament passing legislation late last year to lower the maximum co-payment cost of PBS medicines.

And, it’s been given the “thumbs up” by the national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Professor Trent Twomey.

“This will be a big help to some 19 million patients, especially those who have been struggling to afford their medicines,” he said.

“In 2019-20, we learnt that 900,000 Australian people did not get a script filled because they could not afford it.

“As health professionals, this disturbed us immensely and led to our ‘Affordable Medicines Now’ campaign, which pressured both parties to commit to lowering the cost of PBS medicines in the lead-up to the last federal election.

“It’s a credit to our politicians that they listened to those concerns and gave a bi-partisan commitment to lower the maximum co-payment for PBS listed medicines.

“1 January marked a significant date as it was the first time in the history of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that the general co-payment for medicines has come down and not gone up.”

However, Professor Twomey says the campaign to make medicines universally affordable is far from over.

“We are now pushing to lower the maximum co-payment of PBS medicines even further, to $19,” he explained.

“Reducing the maximum co-payment to $19 will mean an additional 30% of PBS medicines are covered.”

A national survey commissioned by the Pharmacy Guild in 2022 revealed the affordability of healthcare was the biggest hip pocket concern among polled voters.

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