From tomorrow, changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will mean that a number of commonly available over the counter medicines will no longer be subsidised by the federal government. Drugs which will no longer be subsidised include paracetamol, aspirin, some antacids and skin creams. The changes make sense when many of the medications are far less expensive when purchased over the counter than when purchased on prescription, costing both the government and the patient more.
Due to it no longer being subsidised by the government, the price of Panadol Osteo will rise by 5o percent tomorrow, after GlaxoSmithKline raised its wholesale price to pharmacies. The company claims changes to the PBS led to the price rise.
At present, Panadol Osteo can be purchased over the counter for around $5. That will rise to $7.50 as of tomorrow. At present patients purchasing the drug on script may pay up to $24.75 for two boxes, significantly more than the $10 over the counter. Concession patients pay $7.52. The government pays a subsidy on top of the patient’s payment.
GlaxoSmithKline’s behaviour reeks of someone throwing a tantrum because they couldn’t get their own way, they seem to have been charging the taxpayer more for a drug which was available more cheaply over the counter and now that benefit has gone, they are making all patients pay.
Fortunately, there is an alternative – there are generic versions of Panadol Osteo available which may keep their prices at the current level. Patients should discuss their options with their pharmacist.
Health Minister Sussan Ley has referred the price change to the ACCC for misleading and deceiving pharmacists and consumers.