Pharmaceutical :: Better access to pharmaceutical products and services

Thousands of Australians will get better access to a range of medicines, along with improved services at their local pharmacy, thanks to new measures in this year?s Budget.

By subsidising drugs under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Life Saving Drugs Program, as well as assisting pharmacists to run their businesses more efficiently, the Government is ensuring that patients can get the best treatment possible for their medical conditions.

An extension of the listing on the PBS for a once-weekly formulation of alendronate, available from 1 April 2007, will provide treatment for patients with osteoporosis. Nearly two million Australians, or about 10 per cent of the population, have osteoporosis, and about 40,800 new patients will become eligible for treatment with alendronate in the first full year of listing.

An estimated 42,000 more people with high cholesterol will get treatment through extensions of the listings of Ezetrol? (ezetimibe) and Vytorin? (a combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin), available from 1 August 2007. These extensions will cost $78.3 million over four years.

Costing $78.9 million over five years, a number of minor new listings are made to the PBS, including drugs to treat certain patients with inflammatory arthritis, autism and schizophrenia.

A new drug, Strattera? (atomoxetine), will be listed on the PBS from 1 July 2007 at an expected cost of $101.6 million over four years for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in people aged between six and 18 years who are unable to take stimulants.

The Government is also providing $16.4 million over four years to add Aldurazyme? (laronidase), used to treat a very rare enzyme deficiency disorder, to the Life-Saving Drugs Program.

New PBS arrangements, costing $10.7 million over four years, will enable a limited list of eye medicines prescribed by approved optometrists to be eligible for subsidy under the PBS. This will improve access to eye care, particularly for concession card holders in rural areas, and reduce inconvenience and cost for patients who will no longer need to visit a GP to obtain eye medication prescriptions.

The Government has also committed $24.4 million in new funding to provide administrative and systems support for the delivery of programs that will help community pharmacies to provide a range of services to their customers and run their businesses better.

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