New drug laws could lower prescription costs

If the Government accepts new proposals, cheaper generic drugs could benefit concessional and pensioner patients who account for 80 per cent of prescribed medicine users.

Fixed retail pricing under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) means that the Government is paying more than the world market price for common drugs. The result is that the benefits of cheaper generic medicines are not being passed on to those who need them most.

Proposals by the Generic Medicines Industry Association (GMIA) could reduce the current concessional cost of prescribed generic medicines of $5.80 by around $2. Price cuts can be realised on medication once a patent expires and the Government replaces the item on the PBS with a cheaper, generic brand. However, until such price cuts are made, pharmacists can still receive the same amount from the Government for branded drugs as they do for generic drugs. Because of set prices, the consumer may not see the benefit of the discount.

If the consumer was given the discount realised by the pharmacist on generic drugs, then the cost of concession prescriptions could be reduced.

You can find out more about generic medicines at

Written by Debbie McTaggart