23 November 2021
Canberra: Australians can be better protected against ongoing medicine shortages with the passage of new laws that enables the affordable medicines industry to commit to significantly increasing the stock holdings of medicines, in country, to four to six months.
Legislation to better protect Australians against medicine shortages is due to be debated this week.
If passed, it will mark a “watershed moment in the security of medicine supply for Australian patients” says the peak body for the affordable medicines industry.
The Independent Chair of the Generic and Biosimilars Medicines Association (GBMA), Ms Jane Halton AO PSM, said this world-leading policy approach signalled a new era in medicine security and supply.
Ms Halton called for cross-party support for the National Health Amendment (Enhancing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2021.
“The policy framework that supports a sustainable Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) can become very complex, very quickly,” Ms Halton said, a former Secretary of the Departments of Health and Finance. “But at the heart of this legislation are Australian patients and their ability to access the safe and affordable medicines they need, when they need them, regardless of where they live.”
As part of its new five-year Strategic Agreement, affordable medicines industry offered to ‘step up’ and onshore a substantial stockpile of medicines.
The Chief Executive Officer of the GBMA, Ms Marnie Peterson, said there is currently 250 medicines deemed ‘at risk’ of supply chain disruption and volatility.
These ‘at risk’ medicines treat everything from infections, depression and anxiety to high cholesterol, hypertension and reflux. If not treated properly, these conditions can become very serious, very quickly.
The generic and biosimilar industry contributes more than two thirds of all the subsidised medicines dispensed across Australia each year.
As an island nation, a small market destination and a net importer of our medicines, Australia is particularly vulnerable to global supply shocks.
“Our members are being incredibly proactive in offering to do more to secure the supply of vital medicines,” Ms Peterson said. “Our new agreement with the Commonwealth will not only better protect patients but it delivers significant savings and stability to the PBS,” Ms Peterson said.
“We have worked very closely with the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Greg Hunt MP and his department and we look forward to Parliament passing these laws that will be a game changer for all Australian patients and their families.”
The new Strategic Agreement is due to start mid-2022.
The Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) is the peak representative body of generic and biosimilar medicine suppliers in Australia. Its members ensure that all Australians are offered high quality generic and biosimilar medicines, whilst providing affordable community health outcomes that benefit all Australians.