Prescription medicine costs set to ease

·1-min read

Australians will soon pay less for prescriptions as the federal government proposes new laws to lower co-payments for medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

If passed by parliament, it will be the first time in the scheme's 75-year history the maximum cost of scripts will fall.

Health Minister Mark Butler introduced the proposal to parliament on Wednesday to lower the maximum co-payment under the scheme from $42.50 to $30 per prescription.

"Costs of living are soaring and many Australians are cutting back on essentials just to make ends meet," he told parliament.

"This bill will help ease the squeeze on household budgets for millions of Australians."

The changes mean someone taking one medication a month could save as much as $150 every year, or for two or three medications as much as $300 to $450 a year.

Making prescriptions more affordable will help reduce the likelihood of people taking less medicine than prescribed or not having their prescription filled at all, Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Trent Twomey said.

"Community pharmacists have increasingly been hearing patients say they simply cannot afford their medicines, often faced with deciding who in the family will go without in order to put food on the table or pay their bills," Professor Twomey said.

"In addition to increasing the universality of the access to medicines, this is a big step in addressing cost-of-living pressures."

It's expected nearly $200 million in out-of-pocket costs will be saved under the measure per year.

The proposal was a Labor election promise with the changes to be implemented from January 2023.