Today’s Consumer Price Index figures tell the story of households increasingly under pressure to make ends meet, forcing many Australians to choose between buying essential prescription drugs and other essential household items.
This is another reminder that households are grappling with the rising cost of living and having to choose between essentials such as drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS), groceries and paying for their bills, said the national chairman of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Professor Trent Twomey. .
“Community pharmacies see patients who are struggling to afford medications from paycheck to paycheck and ask what medications they can afford to skip for that month to meet other household expenses. “, Professor Twomey said.
“There aren’t many levers the government can use to reduce the cost of living, but it has the ability to make PBS drugs more affordable for middle-income households. For many households, these drugs represent the cost of staying alive.
“A study by an independent pollster insightfully found that almost a third of voters (30%) say they or their families have struggled to afford medication in the past three years.
“This particularly affects middle-income households, with more than a quarter (26%) of people who do not qualify for a concession card struggling to pay for their scripts at the point of sale. That’s a four-point increase since January of this year, when the PBS co-payment rose again, bringing the maximum PBS drug cost for non-concession cardholders to $42.50, doubling since the year 2000. .
“Some people have given up on medication altogether, with 17% saying they have not been able to afford their medication.
“This is an issue at the intersection of voters’ health and cost-of-living priorities. It is heartbreaking to see patients having to choose between buying their prescription drugs and buying other essentials like food and fuel.
“The token cash payments flowing into people’s bank accounts today will do nothing to address the growing unaffordability of essential health-preserving medicines.”
Recently, the Pharmacy Guild has partnered with leading health organizations including the Australian Patients Association, Chronic Pain Australia and Musculoskeletal Australia to advocate on behalf of patients struggling to afford medications by raising the issue with all parties during the election campaign.
Since the Pharmacy Guild began raising this issue publicly, many Australians have come forward to tell us that they or loved ones are struggling to afford medication. Already more than 22,000 people have signed a petition calling on Canberra to reduce the PBS co-payment to make drugs more affordable. More than 2,500 have let us know that they have contacted their federal MPs about this.