Thursday, 1 August 2019
Questions without Notice
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Can the minister outline to the Senate how the Morrison government is demonstrating it's on the side of Australians who choose affordable medicines by updating us on what medicines will be listed today on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the life-changing benefits they provide?
I thank Senator Hughes for the question, and I commend her on the work that she has done in relation to autism. On this side of the chamber, we are very proud to be part of a government that understands that the benefits of a strong economy include providing for the essential services that Australians rely on. One of these essential services is the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. We are investing $40 billion through to 2022 in the listing of life-saving and life-changing medicines. There can be no greater example of the benefits of running a strong economy than our ability to do this.
Mr President, you would be aware that the government is averaging around 31 new or amended listings per month. This equates now to approximately one additional listing or amended listing per day. I'm also pleased to report to the Senate and to Senator Hughes that today we have listed further medicines that treat cancer, cystic fibrosis and arthritic conditions. We have listed Avastin for refractory glioblastoma, which is an aggressive brain cancer. Over 900 patients will benefit, with a saving of around $31,000 per year. We have also listed Sprycel. This will save numerous patients over $51,000 per year. This is for treating Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Somatuline has also been listed for endocrine tumours.
This shows that this government is on the side of the Australian people. We've got a strong economy and we're able to realise the benefits of a strong economy.
The listings on the PBS coming into effect today will change the lives of thousands of Australian. We are only able to do this because of our strong economic management. Today we've extended the listing of Kalydeco for the treatment of cystic fibrosis to children aged from 12 to 24 months old. In Australia, one in 2,500 babies is born with cystic fibrosis each year. That's one every four days. Sadly, there is no cure. Kalydeco will help these young children to breathe more freely and manage their illness.
Without our strong economic management, without our being able to list this PBS subsidised medication, patients may pay up to $300,000 a year for this medication.
As a government, we have a strong track record of investing in our health system, including increasing funding for hospitals, increasing rates of bulk-billing and, as I've outlined today, investing in valuable medicines on the PBS. That is in stark contrast to the last Labor government. The last Labor government stopped listing life-changing medicines on the PBS because they ran out of money. In fact, in their 2011 budget the last Labor government published the following:
… the listing of some medicines would be deferred until fiscal circumstances permit.
That is what happens when you don't appreciate the benefits of a strong economy and the dividends that it can provide to Australians.