PBS changes cause concern
Thursday, 17th December, 2015
By Darrin Manuel
The new year looms as a time of uncertainty for older residents, with major changes to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) set to come into effect.
A range of popular paracetamol products such as Panadol Osteo and Panamax will be removed from the PBS from January 1, meaning they will no longer be subsidised and customers will be required to pay the full price.
A number of other items will also be removed such as certain aspirin tablets, chloramphenicol eye products, hydrocortisone skin creams and ointments, iron/folic acid supplements, electrolytes, urine test strips and Vitamin B12 injections.
Outback Pharmacies partner Jason Harvey said the removal of paracetamol products from the PBS would have a significant impact on the city’s retirees and nursing home residents, many of whom rely on it for pain relief.
He said in the last 12 months over 2000 boxes of Panadol Osteo had been sold from the CP Peoples’ outlet alone.
“Because it’s such a high-volume product a lot of customers will be worse off,” he said.
But the chemist is hoping to offset the financial pain by allowing customers to save on other PBS-listed prescriptions.
Next year pharmacies will have the option of paying to discount their patients’ co-payments on PBS prescriptions by up to $1.
Currently customers make a $6.10 co-payment towards a PBS-listed prescription, with the government then subsidising the remaining cost.
Mr Harvey said Outback Pharmacies would be stepping up and paying the full $1 for customers who wished to take advantage of the offer.
“We’ll be giving the full discount to try and alleviate the stress of (PBS changes)... we’ve got a pretty loyal customer base,” he said.
“We’ve been here for over 100 years and we want to give back to the customers that have been so good to us for so long.”
The only drawback to the $1 discount is that customers who take advantage of the offer will take longer to reach their ‘Safety Net’ threshold.
Under the Safety Net, when a customer reaches 60 prescriptions for the year their remaining subscriptions are given free of charge for the remainder of that year.
It is estimated that customers who receive the $1 discount on every script would take an extra 11 scripts to reach the threshold.
This means that while customers may be saving money in the short term, their access to free medicine could be pushed to later in the year.
Mr Harvey said all Outback Pharmacies customers should discuss their situation with their pharmacist and work out what will be best for them under the new system.