The Australian Statistics on Medicines (ASM) is a publication produced by the Drug UtilisationSub-Committee (DUSC) of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.Figure: Estimated annual supply curves for 1996–2003 and demand curves for 1996 and 2003(average gross prices in Australian dollars) (McRae and Butler, 2014)Comprehensive drug utilisation data are required for a number of purposes includingpharmacosurveillance and the targeting and evaluation of quality use of medicines initiatives. Itis also needed by regulatory and financing authorities and by the Pharmaceutical Industry. Amajor aim of the ASM has been to put comprehensive and valid statistics on the Australian useof medicines in the public domain to allow access by all interested parties.
Publication of the Australian data facilitates international comparisons of drug utilisationprofiles, and encourages international collaboration on drug utilisation research particularly inrelation to enhancing the quality use of medicines and health outcomes.3.Government ControlsThe Australian Government subsidises the cost of many medicines for Australians through thePharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). According to the 2014–15 Department of Health (DoH)Annual Report, the PBS cost the Australian Government $9.1 billion in 2014–15 with more than211 million prescriptions subsidised. This represents 21 per cent of the $43.3 billion in fundsadministered by the DoH in 2014–15. By way of comparison, medical services (includingMedicare benefits) accounted for 47 per cent of the administered funds, and private healthinsurance rebates for 13 per cent. Parliamentary Budget Office analysis shows that althoughmoderate growth in PBS spending to 2018–19 was forecast in the 2015–16 Budget, this wassubsequently revised downwards to a relatively flat level of spending. This downwards revisionis due to the 2015 PBS Access and Sustainability Package of reforms, which is lowering theprice the Government pays for many medicines. It also reflects the ongoing impact of pricedisclosure policies, which are designed to move the PBS price paid by the Government closer tothe market price of off patent medicines (which may be heavily discounted. (Grove, 2016)
State and territory health departments are also involved in policy and operational aspects oftimely access to medicines through, for example, contractual purchasing arrangements, andthrough therapeutics committees for hospital networks. They also have a role in coordinatingresponses to medicine shortages where there is a significant public health impact within theirjurisdiction. (Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), 2017)4.Financing and SustainabilitySo, to some degree, market failure in the pharmaceutical market is a price consumers pay foreffective regulation. However, information asymmetry, high barriers to market entry, and
monopolistic behaviour have led to high prices for many patented medicines, which have madethem unaffordable in many settings. Government intervention has been used to correct thesedistortions.
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