Making Medicines Cheaper

Department of Health

The Australian Government is easing cost-of-living pressures by making medicines cheaper for all Australians.

The 2024-25 Budget includes a $4.3 billion investment to continue the Government’s efforts to make medicines cheaper.

The Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Malarndirri McCarthy visited Blooms the Chemist in Darwin today to discuss some of the health measures in the Budget and talk about the ways the Government is strengthening our health system.

There will be a one-year freeze on the maximum cost of a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescription for everyone with a Medicare card and up to a five-year freeze for pensioners and other Commonwealth concession cardholders.

Australians have already saved more than $370 million since the Government introduced 60-day prescriptions and reduced the PBS co-payment last year, the largest cut in the history of the PBS.

The maximum co-payment for a PBS medicine will be held at its current rate of $7.70 for up to 5 years for pensioners and other Commonwealth concession cardholders, instead of rising annually in line with inflation.

Everyone else with a Medicare card will benefit from a one-year freeze on indexation, continuing to pay a maximum co-payment of $31.60 for all of 2025.

The measures will improve access to PBS medicines for more than 660,000 First Nations people living with or at risk of chronic disease.

Eligible First Nations patients who are registered on the Closing the Gap database will either get their PBS medicines for free, if they have a Commonwealth concession card, or pay the discounted co-payment of $7.70 if they don’t.

From 1 July 2024, the Closing the Gap PBS co-payment program will be expanded to cover all PBS medicines, dispensed by community pharmacies. From 1 January 2025, this will expand further to also include all PBS medicines dispensed at public and private hospitals.

This change will mean eligible First Nations patients will be able to access CTG benefits on s100 PBS medicines through community pharmacies, approved medical practitioners or private hospitals.

Section 100 PBS medicines amounts to more than 1,300 additional PBS items, and includes medicines for HIV, hepatitis B, opioid dependency, chemotherapy, growth hormone and IVF.

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister McCarthy:

“The Albanese Labor Government is strengthening Medicare and making medicines cheaper.

“We’re delivering cheaper medicines to ease pressure on household budgets, freezing the maximum cost of a PBS medicine, and adding more medicines to the PBS.

“Cheaper medicines will contribute to our efforts in closing the gap and improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“Investing in greater access to affordable medicines means better health and wellbeing outcomes for all Australians.”

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