Wednesday, 11 September 2019
National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2019; Second Reading
I thank members for their contributions to the debate on the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill. The government understands the importance that members place on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. For your constituents and for all Australians, the PBS has provided affordable access to medicines for over 60 years. The introduction of an application fee for all applications to supply PBS medicines brings these processes into line with the Australian government charging framework. The fee will be paid when pharmacists apply for approval to supply PBS medicines. These changes were announced in the 2018-19 budget and support the overall sustainability of the PBS. The fee will apply to all applications to establish a new pharmacy or relocate an existing pharmacy and to applications involving a change of ownership of a pharmacy. The amount of the fee will be determined prior to coming into effect and will be calculated based on the regulatory activity involved in processing these applications. The Department of Health will review the fee each year and adjust it accordingly.
The bill will also ensure access to much-needed medicines can continue following the bankruptcy of an approved pharmacist or where a pharmacy has been placed under external administration. These amendments are particularly important for rural and remote communities, where alternative access to PBS medicines may be limited. The approximate number of pharmacies affected by bankruptcy or external administration is about 20 each year. The bill provides the Secretary of the Department of Health the power to grant permission to an appointed administrator to manage the supply of PBS medicines at pharmacy premises. The new premises will assist continuity of supply of PBS medicines in the affected pharmacy until such time as the pharmacy can be sold or transferred to another pharmacist.
I'd like to thank all those stakeholders who provided input into these changes during consultation on the bill—in particular, the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association, the Australian Friendly Societies Pharmacies Association, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Australians have an outstanding health system and access to world-class medicines. The changes in this bill support the ongoing sustainability of the PBS. The Morrison government is deeply committed to the PBS and the Australian patients who benefit from the scheme. The PBS covers more than 5,000 clinically proven products across a range of conditions, from asthma and arthritis to diabetes and cancer.
Our government has a commitment to list all medicines on the PBS when recommended to do so by the medical experts. Since 2013, our government has made over 2,100 new or amended PBS listings at an investment of over $10.6 billion. We'll continue to list all new medicines on the PBS. That is in contrast to Labor, who in 2011 stopped listing medicines because they couldn't manage the economy. Due to our strong economic management, we're able to provide further support for patients who access the medicines they need through the PBS. Can I thank all members for their interest and support.