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article imageOp-Ed: USA take note — Australia cuts meds prices across the board

By Paul Wallis     Mar 31, 2012 in Health
Sydney - Australia is actually cutting the cost of meds. The Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has announced cuts to a wide range of medications. Americans, with their insane health care issues, might like to see how this works.
The Daily Telegraph explains:
When a doctor prescribes a PBS-approved medication, patients pay up to $35.40 per script at the pharmacy. The government pays the pharmacists for the remaining cost of the drug, according to a pre-agreed schedule of prices (up to many thousands of dollars in the case of some cancer drugs).
But in many cases, pharmacists have been buying lower-cost drugs - including generic versions of well-known brands - from wholesalers, and still claiming the full government rebate
Yes, thousands of dollars, for people who really need them. The new move forces a return to paying the real price, not the list price, a big deal for a lot of consumers. Not all of the most expensive drugs are affected, but the overall effect will be to cut real costs to patients. This is What You Get Is What You Pay For, in effect.
It's a good, unambiguous, move. The price factor of medication is of course a major issue for a lot of people and the cuts will allow some breathing space for the budgets of the retirement generation, (which of course retired without enough money) and those on fixed incomes. It also enforces price fairness.The new move is also significant in that the use of generics and a pretty ferocious discounting war among competing wholesalers will add to the real cuts in terms of regular purchases:
The savings will also deliver taxpayers a $1.9 billion windfall over five years because the medications are subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Drug companies hope those savings will lead the government to list new drugs on the taxpayer-funded PBS, with a swag of new treatments for cancer, arthritis and kidney failure already slated to join the scheme from today.
The American equation
American drug companies loathe the Australian PBS. In addition to an evidently incubator-programmed dislike of both government involvement and the idea of people being able to afford their products, the PBS is a dangerous reminder of the possibility of real change to their much-overweight cash cow. No Australian politician will touch the PBS. It’s too practical and too popular. It also actually works and is highly efficient.
Which leads to a really interesting series of questions-
Who knows- Maybe the much-gouged American market might take an interest in a PBS scheme of its own, and force the Big Pharma guys to work for a living?
Maybe the amazingly useless, misanthropic/genocidal US health care sector might even start taking an interest in the viability of its practices for its customers and the reason it exists?
Maybe even the heavily disguised genuises in Congress might find a calculator or an abacus and figure out that the billions spent in hideously, irrationally overpriced drugs could be better spent elsewhere rather than forcing medical bankruptcies?
Anything is possible in the Age of Miracles- even rational pricing and responsible industry practices.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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