NPS MedicineWise to wind up by year’s end

NPS MedicineWise will wind up completely at the end of this year, its board has confirmed.

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

The money will instead go to the government-owned Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, which is also taking over the service’s website and the MedicineInsight dataset.

NPS chair Dr Andrew Knight said the revamp would “prove to be a poor decision”.

“NPS MedicineWise does not agree with the decision to proceed with the redesign and we believe it will make the safe and wise use of medicines in Australia much harder to achieve.”

“However, we accept this is the minister’s decision and, in response, have made the difficult decision to wind up the company as and when our funding ceases on 31 December 2022.”

Launched in 1998, the organisation had run programs such as Choosing Wisely on quality use of medicines and medicines safety for GPs and other specialists – including a round of practice review letters sent to rheumatologists on bDMARD prescribing this year.

Altogether, these had generated a claimed $1.1 billion in direct savings to Medicare and the PBS, a $2 return for every $1 of taxpayer money invested.

The funding cut was first announced in March under the former Health Minister Greg Hunt and was confirmed by his Labor successor Mark Butler earlier this month following a review by Deloitte Access Economics.

The organisation said it had explored other avenues to raise money, but ultimately determined it had no choice but to cease operations.

“This is an extremely sad and challenging time for our organisation, and the end of an era for many,” its CEO Katherine Burchfield said.

“Over the years, NPS MedicineWise has become a valued ‘go to’ resource for health professionals and consumers in the quality use of medicines, and has built up a unique set of expertise, assets and networks. It is hard not to see this decision as a backwards step”.

She said it would now focus on transferring its functions to the commission and ensuring the best outcomes for its 170 staff.

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