Paracetamol to be removed from PBS

The Government has confirmed it will press ahead with plans to remove common medicines such as paracetamol from the PBS.

The decision follows advice from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee announced earlier this year by Health Minister Sussan Ley.

At the time Ms Ley said the government was paying a lot of money for people to access paracetamol and other over-the-counter medications on script that was not necessarily sustainable and not necessarily in the interest of patients overall.

“I’m confident this is in the interests of consumers, it’s in the interest of our budget and in the interests of our whole medicine supply chain,” she said.

The Australian Rheumatology Association wrote a letter to the PBAC in May this year urging the body to not make any decisions regarding paracetamol until a formal review of the current clinical practice guidelines for its use in OA was complete.

In the letter the ARA along with Arthritis Australia outlined its concerns around the financial impact the decision may have on concessional patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Without a PBS script these patients were unlikely to be able to purchase paracetamol more cheaply in equivalent quantities and will be financially disadvantaged, the letter said.

There were also concerns that increased costs would create an incentive for patients to seek second line PBS listed drugs such as opioids and NSAIDs which had a less favourable safety profile.

The ARA did not receive a response to the letter President Mona Marabani told the limbic.

The list of PBAC recommendations for de-listing expands beyond paracetamol to include brands of aspirin, folic acid, antacids, some vitamins and supplements and glucose and ketone testing strips.

Some of the medicines will remain available through the PBS for patient groups such as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders and veterans.

Gone from the PBS as of 1 Jan 2016:

  • Low dose aspirin (Astrix, Mayne Pharma Aspirin, Spren 100)
  • Dispersible aspirin (Solprin)
  • Paracetamol 500mg (multiple brands)
  • Paracetamol modified release (Panadol Osteo, Osteomol 665)
  • Paracetamol oral liquid (Panamax, Panamax 240 Elixir)

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