A push for Australians to use generic pharmaceuticals is among budget measures that will reportedly save the federal government $1.
8 billion over five years.
Under the plan, prescribing software will be altered so scripts name the active ingredient of the drugs rather than the brand name, the ABC’s 7.30 program reported on Monday evening.
The aim is to lift Australia’s generic drug use to American and British levels.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said he was committed to allowing doctors to retain “100 per cent” control over their prescriptions.
“Our commitment is give patients the best access and the lowest cost,” he told the program.
“Generics are one way of doing that, but it has to be – as it always has been – under the control of the doctors.”
Mr Hunt said savings through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) would be reinvested.
“This means more drugs at lower costs – better healthcare for all Australians.”
The Australian Medical Association voiced concern over the changes, saying it holds independent clinical decision-making close to its heart.
“It certainly interferes with our autotomy and independence when it comes to choosing what’s best for the patients,” vice president Tony Barton told the ABC.
“It is about understanding our patients and making a decision that’s in the patient’s best interests, as well as one that’s guided by years of clinical expertise and experience.”
Savings will reportedly be achieved through a deal with Medicines Australia to progressively cut the price of PBS medicines still on patent every five years, before a further 25 per cent reduction when they go off patent.