28 October 2021
Legislation to better protect Australians against medicine shortages was lodged in Federal Parliament today and heralded as a “watershed moment in the security of medicine supply for Australian patients” by the peak body for the affordable medicines industry.
After months of collaborative negotiations, the Generic and Biosimilars Medicines Association (GBMA) applauded the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Greg Hunt MP for introducing the National Health Amendment (Enhancing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2021 into the House of Representatives.
The Independent Chair of the GBMA, Ms Jane Halton AO PSM, said this world-leading policy approach signalled a new era in medicine security and supply.
The legislation enables the affordable medicines industry to ‘step up’ and commit to significantly increasing the stock holdings of medicines, in country, to four to six months.
“To better protect our patients, our industry will be enabled to increase its stock holdings substantially so we can better withstand any future medicine supply chain shocks,” Ms Halton said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the GBMA, Ms Marnie Peterson, said there is currently a very large volume of 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 GBMA, and the Commonwealth Government, negotiated the new five-year Strategic Agreement, 12 months early, out of mutual concern for millions of vulnerable Australians, who are struggling to access these vital medicines.
The generic and biosimilar industry contributes more than two thirds of all the medicines dispensed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) each year.
“The new Strategic Agreement with Government will better protect all Australians and deliver significant savings and stability to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS),” Ms Peterson said.
“Australian patients are at the heart of this legislation and its passage, through Parliament, will ensure Australia can continue to maintain a world class health system.”
The legislation is due to be debated in the Senate next month. 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.