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Prescription rule change in Australia’s Federal Budget 2023: What it means for you


Australians could save $180 each year on commonly used drugs thanks to a major prescription rule change, coming into effect in September.

Health Secretary Mark Butler announced on Wednesday that patients will be able to buy double their supply of some prescription drugs in one go.

More than 320 treatments will be divided into 60-day doses instead of the current 30, but will still be subject to current price caps.

So instead of paying up to $30 for a 30-day supply of medicine, Aussies will soon be paying up to $30 for a 60-day supply.

Those with a concession card pay just $7.30 for two months of prescription drugs.

Australians will soon be able to buy 60-day prescription drugs at once, for the same price as a 30-day supply

Health Secretary Mark Butler (above) announced the prescription rule change on Wednesday

Health Secretary Mark Butler (above) announced the prescription rule change on Wednesday

One of the ideas behind it is that patients need to visit the doctor less often.

The policy is mainly aimed at people with chronic conditions who spend a lot on treatment.

People can save up to $180 a year if their drug can be prescribed for 60 days instead of 30, or more if their other medications qualify for the prescription change.

Included medications on the list are for conditions such as heart disease, cholesterol, Crohn’s disease, and hypertension.

The move has been long debated by Labor and rejected by the Pharmacy Guild, who say the change would cost community chemists $3.5 billion.

Trent Twomey, president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, said the changes could lead to further drug shortages for patients.

“I’m all for cost-of-living relief and a cost-of-living measure, but unfortunately this is just smoke and mirrors,” he told ABC TV on Wednesday.

“If you don’t have the medicine in stock, how do you give double nothing? Double nothing is still nothing.’

Doctor Nick Coatsworth also agreed that the new policy could lead to crippling drug shortages across Australia.

‘The medication shortage is not made up. This policy could lead to Australians going to pharmacies and being rejected for medicines they have been taking for five to 10 years,” he told Today.

“I’m actually concerned about this, it looks good on the face of it, but I knew a lot about supply chains in Covid and Australians are probably not fully aware of how shabby those supply chains are.

“If we start giving people medicine for 60 days instead of 30, people will miss out.”

However, the new 60-day prescription is backed by the Australian Medical Association, with Vice President Danielle McMullen welcoming the change.

“The moment we talk about so much cost-of-living pressure, it will really ease the burden on patients across Australia,” she told Seven’s Sunrise programme.

“There are some drug shortage situations at the moment, but this announcement will be addressed in phases to alleviate the shortages.”

Health Secretary Mark Butler explained that the change will be launched in three phases, each introducing about 100 medication schedules.

The first phase will start on September 1 this year, followed by the second on March 1 next year and the last round on September 1, 2024.

More information will be available later today on the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme website.

The Albanian government has yet to release the actual cost of the scheme, but said there will be more information in the upcoming budget.

Butler said 60-day prescriptions will address the problem of Australians delaying or running out of medicines due to high costs

Butler said 60-day prescriptions will address the problem of Australians delaying or running out of medicines due to high costs

Butler said the new regulations will reduce how often people living in rural communities have to travel for treatment and address the problem of Australians delaying or going without drugs due to high costs.

“Every year, nearly a million Australians are forced to delay or miss a drug that their doctor has told them is necessary for their health,” he said.

“This cheaper drug policy is safe, good for Australians’ hip pockets and, above all, good for their health.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, Butler also dismissed the idea that the scheme will create widespread shortages — noting that only seven drugs on the list are currently in short supply.

Doctors will still be able to choose to write a prescription for a month’s supply for patients, instead of two.

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