bDMARD programs to live on after NPS MedicineWise closes


By Geir O'Rourke

23 Nov 2022

Specialist education programs on responsible prescribing of expensive drugs such as bDMARDs will continue after NPS MedicineWise shuts its doors at the end of this year, the service has confirmed.

The NPS formally announced last week it was ceasing all operations on 31 December and would also legally wind up from that date.

It follows the Federal Government’s decision to end its $25 million in annual taxpayer funding – which had been the overwhelming majority of NPS’ budget.

In an update on Friday, it said most of its activities – including Value in Prescribing, Choosing Wisely, the MedicineInsight dataset – will move the government-owned Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC), which is also taking over the service’s website.

The commission will also be taking over the PBS/MBS practice reviews, which are regularly mailed to GPs on their prescribing or test ordering, but have also been prepared for specialists in recent years.

As part of the ‘Value in Prescribing’ program, annual letters were sent to 450 rheumatologists until May this year analysing their prescribing of biological disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDS) as well as glucocorticoids and opioids.

Created with government grant money totalling more than $9.2 million, each review featured an individualised comparison of the recipient’s prescribing with the national average across 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Documents released under Freedom of Information last year showed these were meant to deliver PBS savings of $50 million.

The service confirmed no further bDMARD letters were currently being planned, but said the program will live on in some form under the ACSQHC.

Other activities going across to the commission include:

  • MedicineWise App and Doctor’s Bag App
  • Choosing Wisely Australia website
  • Delivery of the National Medicines Symposium
  • NPS MedicineWise website and online learning platform

The Australian Prescriber Journal, national prescribing curriculum and national educational programs for health professionals and consumers would be put up for competitive tender and grant processes for future delivery, NPS said.


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