Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

One of the achievements of this coalition government which is of benefit to the majority but of inestimable value to the few is the enhancement of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the addition of more life-saving medicines

A scheme like the PBS, which can save and prolong lives, is a key feature of an advanced and compassionate society. The PBS became a comprehensive scheme in 1960 under the government of Sir Robert Menzies. It's established under the National Health Act of 1953. It's a key component of the National Medicines Policy, with the objective to improve the positive health outcomes for all Australians through access to and wise use of medicines.

The coalition government continues to make more medicines available and more affordable on the PBS, with an overall budgeted cost since coming to government in October 2013 to May 2018 of about $9 billion. There's no expenditure cap to the PBS, and new drugs can be added as new ones come online. That's, however, only the case if there's money in the bank to pay for them. This government has been highly effective in adding new drugs to the PBS since 2013, in part due to its excellent financial management, which has allowed the program to be enhanced with more and more of these life-saving drugs. The most recent addition is Orkambi, which treats cystic fibrosis. It will significantly extend the lives of patients while saving families up to $250,000 a year. Patients will only pay a maximum of $39.50 per script, with concession patients paying just $6.40.

It's worth listing some of the other drugs that the coalition has put on the PBS. If there's a measure of how effective and caring a government can be, perhaps this is the measure. In August, the government announced it would make $250 million available for four life-changing cancer medicines to become available to thousands of Australians. A drug called Opdivo, made available for people suffering from a type of head and neck cancer, would have otherwise cost $50,000 a year. A drug named Imbruvica treats patients with a subtype of lymphoma cancer, relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma. They will have access to that drug when they would have otherwise been up for $134,000 a year. Patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer treatment will benefit from Neulasta, which helps the body to make a type of white blood cell that's needed to help with their recovery, saving them over $4,500 per course of chemotherapy. Patients with rare types of leukaemia cancer called myeloproliferative neoplasms, who would otherwise pay more than $18,000 a year, will now benefit from the listing of Pegasys.

The coalition have also announced the subsidy of new medicines for hepatitis C and diabetes. Mavyret will help Australians living with hepatitis C and save them $50,000 per course of treatment. It works by stopping the hep C virus from multiplying and infecting new cells. Australians living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes will be more easily able to regulate their blood sugar levels with the listing of Ryzodeg on the PBS, which would have normally cost around $930 a year. If you were a woman suffering from breast cancer, Kisqali would have cost you $71,820 a year. Now it's subsidised. Spinraza, which helps people who have spinal muscular atrophy and who would have had to pay $367,000 per year, is also subsidised. I could keep going and going and going. It's really important that we understand it's good financial management that makes this possible. While the Labor Party likes to portray itself as the party of the health system, the supporter of public health, it failed on this front. It managed the budget so poorly that it couldn't list new drugs on the PBS that should have been listed. Every day of the week, this government delivers for the health system and all Australians by using good financial management to make these life-saving treatments available for all.