Drugs need to be cheaper and more easily available so doctors have more time for their patients, says the top body for GPs.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners on Monday issued its appeal to the federal government, saying the May budget was an opportunity to act on much-needed reforms.
Those changes included extending the length of prescriptions and allowing more drugs to be prescribed at one time.
A two-month supply would halve dispensing fees that already cost taxpayers $1.67 billion in 2021-22, university president Nicole Higgins said.
“More than 140 drugs could have an increased supply window of two months, according to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, many for chronic conditions,” said Dr. Higgins.
“It will save money for individual patients, as well as significant savings for the overall healthcare budget and taxpayers.”
Medicines should be accessible and affordable for all Australians, but current laws prevent that from being the case, said Dr Higgins.
“We have a cost of living crisis and a healthcare crisis on our hands,” he said.
“People across Australia are feeling the crisis and struggling to access or pay for the healthcare and medicine they need.
“These reforms are an easy way to help those who need it most, including the elderly and those with chronic conditions who often need multiple medications.”
Dr Higgins is also calling for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Program’s prescribing system to be changed so that GPs have the freedom to treat patients instead of being bogged down with paperwork.
“If this system were updated and simplified, it would result in shorter visits, lower Medicare bills, and GPs having more time to spend with patients instead of cumbersome administration,” he said.
Health Minister Mark Butler said several ideas for the next budget had been put forward and any new measures would be clarified when they were announced in May.