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Call to reverse PBS cut

Tuesday, 12th January, 2016

Outback Pharmacies partner Andrew Johnson agrees the government should put Panadol Osteo back on the PBS to assist older residents. Outback Pharmacies partner Andrew Johnson agrees the government should put Panadol Osteo back on the PBS to assist older residents.

By Darrin Manuel

Outback Pharmacies has backed a call for the Turnbull government to restore Panadol Osteo to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The government announced late last year that it would stop subsiding a number of medications, with Panadol Osteo - a product heavily relied upon by older residents - at the top of the list.

Outback Pharmacies’ Andrew Johnson said most locals were smart enough to stock up on the pain reliever before the cut-off date of January 1, but predicted problems in the near future.

“The situation at the moment is that a lot of people knew that it would be coming off, so they all had their prescriptions filled at the end of last year,” he said.

“So it’s a bit early to tell, but I think there will be problems down the track, I’ve spoken with a few people and they’ve said they won’t be taking it anymore.”

Mr Johnson said with Panadol Osteo no longer affordable, older residents may start seeking stronger alternatives still listed on the PBS.

Others, he said, may simply start taking more of other PBS medications for which they already have prescriptions.

“It’s just another barrier for people to manage their pain, and it could lead to them taking other, stronger medication that may not be as safe, and could have long-term health effects.”

His concerns are shared by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, who yesterday called on the government to “fess up” that de-listing the medication was a mistake.

“The result of this flawed decision is that the vast majority of Australia’s 1.9 million osteoarthritis sufferers are now having to pay significantly more for their essential pain medication,” said the Guild in a release yesterday.

“For many pensioners who normally reach the PBS safety net, their annual out-of-pocket costs for Panadol Osteo may triple.

“The Government’s declared purpose of the de-listing was to make medicines more affordable for patients. Demonstrably, this is not the case with Panadol Osteo.

“An elementary error has been made and it is now time to rectify it. As Malcolm Turnbull made clear when he became Prime Minister, when his government gets a policy wrong, they will review it.

“This is a classic example of where the Turnbull doctrine must be applied.”

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