by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Australian Journal of Pharmacy : November 2006
news news Challenges to our demographic destiny HADOW Minister for Health, Julia Gillard, has accused the Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, of ‘bury- ing his head in the sand’ while highlight- ing key drivers that are raising the cost of public healthcare at a speech at the recent Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) conference. ‘The bad news is that in the face of the profound challenges ageing will pose for our society and our health system, far too little has been done. S ‘We hear a great deal from the Howard Government about the contribution of the PBS [Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme] to the growth in health costs. The fact that the real growth rate of the PBS has col- lapsed, goes un-remarked upon,’ said Ms Gillard. ‘Largely this rhetoric is being used by the Howard Government to justify the PBS becoming a target area for cuts, even though the PBS is the most progressive pil- lar of our health system and the one with the greatest ability to assist with getting people back to work and improving the participation rate’. According to Ms Gillard, the PBS had a rigorous assessment mechanism for the cost and clinical effectiveness of new phar- maceuticals, as well as a tough price nego- tiating arm. But the same was not true for other medical technologies. The Productivity Commission projects that government health expenditure (excluding aged care) will nearly double by 2044/45. They also project that the share of the population aged 65 years and older will rise from 13 to 24.5 per cent from 2003/04 to 2044/45. Over the same Gillard attacks ‘sneaky’cost increases S HADOW Minister for Health, Julia Gillard has attacked Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, over ‘sneaky’ government increases in the cost of some medicines. She cited four common Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications— Amoxycillin, Tritace, Zantac and Zoton—which will cost the public a lot more as ‘secretive’ charges had been applied to them. Accusing Tony Abbott of mismanaging the PBS, she told 2HD Newcastle talk back radio host Luke Grant, ‘these medicines aren’t boutique or niche medications; one of these medications is taken by more than 230,000 Australians. ‘The medication increase is known as a therapeutic premium, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what it is called, you have got to pay your PBS co- payment. What really matters is whether people have got enough dollars in their wallet or purse when they go to the chemist to make sure that they can get the medicines they need,’ Ms Gillard said on 2HD. Ms Gillard’s website said Zantac, which treats reflux and ulcers, now has a ‘therapeutic premium’ of $4.18. The cost of Tritace, for blood pressure, has increased by $3.25. The cost of Zoton, for reflux, had increased by $3.63 and Amoxycillin, a commonly used antibiotic, now cost 58 cents more. A spokesperson for the Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, had said there was no need for any patient to be out of pocket because alternative drugs were available on the PBS without the additional payments. 4 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL 87 NOVEMBER 2006 Shadow Minister for Health Julia Gillard period, the share of those aged 85 and older will undergo an even larger jump from 1.5 per cent to 5 per cent. Currently, there is an aged dependency ratio of 19 per cent, which means that there are 5.2 potential workers for every person aged 65 and over. By 2044/45, this ratio will have risen to 41 per cent, the equivalent of 2.4 workers for each person over 65. ‘The Treasurer might crow about recent increases in the fertility rate, but in reality the projections tell us that any short term spike in births actually adds further weight to the dependency ratio to the extent that this cohort will not be old enough to con- tribute to the working economy when the “crisis” hits,’ Ms Gillard said. Managing costs of medical technologies ‘The good news is that we can reform our health system and manage costs in a far more effective way,’ she said. According to the Productivity Com- mission, advances in technology in areas such as pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, devices and prostheses are estimated to have contributed about one third of the average annual growth rate in real health expenditure over this period. Further, they have a particular impact in the hospital setting, as recent inpatient costs illustrate. In the eight-year period since 1996/97 total hospital separations had remained fairly steady, while the length of hospital stays had actually fallen. However, the cost of treatment has risen. In this period to 2002/03, the total cost of treating patients in both public ? continued page 6