01 September 2023

Consumer and medical groups welcome start of 60-day scripts for patients

Consumer, health and doctor groups have welcomed the September 1 start of 60-day dispensing which will bring immediate benefits for some of Australia’s most vulnerable people.

This reform doubles the amount of medicines that pharmacists can dispense for stable conditions, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, from 30 to 60 days – saving patients at least $180 a year and more if they’re taking multiple medicines.

The change is rolling out in three stages starting today, when the first group of medicines becomes available for 60-day scripts. It includes treatment for patients living with high cholesterol, hypertension, osteoporosis, Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, gout, heart failure, and ulcerative colitis. Once the rollout is complete, over 300 medicines will be available for 60-day scripts. 

This reform has been widely supported by patient and consumer groups, as well as medical groups.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President Dr Nicole Higgins said: “This change is going to bring immediate benefits for some the most vulnerable people in our community, including people living with chronic and ongoing conditions. It will save patients money and mean fewer trips to pick up medicine and repeat scripts, as well as freeing up GP consultations. The change is happening in three stages, and I encourage people who think they may be eligible for 60-day scripts to talk to their GP.”

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said: “While asthma medications aren't included in this first round, we welcome the start of this initiative at the beginning of Asthma Week, for all those Australians living with a chronic condition who can now afford to buy the medicine they need." 

Breast Cancer Network Australia Director Policy, Advocacy & Support Services Vicki Durston said: “BCNA welcomes the commencement of 60-day dispensing for certain medications. This will make medicines cheaper for people living with chronic disease, including those with breast cancer. Although not released in this tranche, we look forward to the release of hormone-blocking therapies used to treat hormone receptor positive breast cancer in future rollouts of the program to reduce the cost for those diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Council of the Ageing (COTA) Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow said: “The move to 60-day prescribing will make a big difference to the lives of many older people from a health, wellbeing and financial perspective. It’s a practical, common-sense change that recognises that medicines aren’t a luxury, but a necessity. This is an acknowledgement of how crucial it is that everyone can get timely, affordable access to the medicines they need to keep them healthy.”

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke: “For millions of Australians and their loved ones who live with lung disease, being able to fill two months’ worth of vital everyday medicines for the price of one prescription is a tremendous hip pocket relief amid acute cost of living pain. This change means less unnecessary trips to the GP, freeing up the incredibly overburdened system, and less time for immunosuppressed people spent in crowded waiting areas. From our community’s perspective, those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will be immediately affected, and for patients with stable chronic conditions it also reduces their risk of missing medication dosages at the end of the month when their script runs out. The crucial job our pharmacists do as part of our health care teams will not change – they will still help people to understand their conditions, advise on monitoring symptoms and improve management of health at home.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey said: “We welcome both the convenience and savings that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will derive from this measure.  This measure will relieve the burden of having to frequently access multiple clinical service providers in different locations to manage peoples’ chronic diseases. There is also a significant financial benefit, especially for working Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Despite existing medicines subsidy measures, ABS data continue to show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – like many other Australians – may need to forgo medication due to its cost.”           

60-day medicine dispensing will                                                                            
  • Benefit approximately 6 million people with chronic and ongoing conditions – including a significant number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians who have a higher prevalence of chronic conditions.
  • Save consumers up to $180 a year and more for people taking multiple medicines.
  • Mean fewer trips to pick up medicines and repeat scripts, saving people time and money and freeing up GP appointments.
  • Bring Australia into line with other high-income countries like New Zealand, the USA and Canada, where people already have access to multiple months of medication on a single prescription.
  • Improve system equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who suffer more from chronic disease. There is strong evidence showing the value of medicine cost reduction for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Increase convenience for consumers, which will increase medication adherence.
  • Implement a recommendation from the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). PBAC has dismissed claims the change would cause medication shortages.

Media enquiries

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