Australians aged 65 and over look set to save hundreds of dollars each year on their prescriptions after the federal government put into practice a cost of living concept first mooted five years ago.
As early as 2018 medical experts floated the idea of 60-day prescriptions however the idea was put on the backburner until last month when Australians living with an ongoing health condition were given approval to get two months’ worth of medicine for the cost of a single prescription.
Until now, most long-term medicines were only available for 30 days at a time.
Minister for Health & Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler, said people with a heart condition, Crohn’s disease, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and many other conditions will benefit from cost of living relief as a result of the move.
Everyone with a Medicare card taking one of these medicines will save up to $180 per year, per medicine. Concession card holders will save $43 per medicine.
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia member, Andrew Bartlett, said those who have a current prescription will need to use this prescription first before they will be issued with a new one.
To be eligible for a prescription that provides medicine for 60 days your medication needs to be on the approved list and your doctor will also need to assess if you are stable on it.
“This is to avoid wastage. We know new treatments can result in frequent changes to medication regimens, which would result in wasted medicines if they don’t end up being used.”
What are the stages?
Bartlett said the roll-out of 60-day scripts will occur in three stages. The first stage, which began in early September, includes medicines for cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, heart failure, high cholesterol, gout, osteoporosis, and the gut conditions Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
The following stages, set to be rolled out over the coming 12 months, include medicines for diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, asthma and Parkinson’s disease.
Minister Butler said the announcement means every single Australian will benefit from the freeing up of millions of much-needed GP visits, so doctors have more time to diagnose and treat conditions, instead of simply issuing routine, repeat scripts.
It will also result in regional Australians no longer having to travel each month into the pharmacy to pick up the same prescription they’ve been on for decades.
But as well as being good for the hip pocket, it will also be good for the health of Australians, he said.
“Overseas evidence tells us that medicine compliance increases by 20 percent with longer prescriptions.”
“That is why every major patient group and doctors’ group, including the Consumers Health Forum, the Australian Medical Association, the College of General Practitioners, and the Rural Doctors Association, have advocated strongly for 60-day prescriptions.”
“Sixty-day prescriptions have been a long time coming.”
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