Australia negotiates pharmacy reimbursement increase as part of budget savings

Even as Australia takes measures to trim the nation's spending on medicines as part of overall healthcare funding pressures, it is busy negotiating a deal in the $15 billion range that could be more than a 20% increase in pharmacy reimbursements.

The government already plans to cut $1.4 billion from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme's expenses by lowering the cost of generic drugs, and nearly $1 billion with a 5% across-the-board reduction in what it pays for innovative drugs.

In addition, it is trimming costs in other healthcare sectors, including Medicare.

One of the longest negotiations has been between the government and the Pharmacy Guild, which wants reimbursements lifted from the current $12.5 billion to what The Australian reports is a guild demand for as much as $16.7 billion.

The newspaper said the government countered with an additional $2.4 billion as a compromise, topping a previous offer that would have allowed pharmacists to discount PBS payments in exchange for pharmacists lowering the upfront cost to patients by lowering their prices.

According to the government, the earlier offer, which could be incorporated into a final deal, would encourage patients to stay within their PBS budget while widely available drugs would no longer be covered.

That part of the plan alone, the government figures, would save it $317.1 million over the next 5 years.

- here's the story from The Australian