The cost of drugs, a key electoral issue

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Peak health and community pharmacy bodies have formed a coalition urging parties to recognize drug affordability as a key election issue.

According to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Australian Patients Association, Chronic Pain Australia and Musculoskeletal Australia, 30% of voters struggle to afford drugs under the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia chairman Trent Twomey said many Australians are worried about access to preventative health care as the cost of living rises.

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“Community pharmacies see patients struggling to afford medications from prescription to prescription and paycheck to paycheck…we want a truly universal healthcare system in which PBS medications are affordable for everyone,” Professor Twomey said.

“The best way to help these Australians is to reduce the PBS co-payment to help patients afford essential medicines from one scenario to the next. For many households, these medicines are the cost of sustaining life. .”

Chronic Pain Australia chair Fiona Hodson advocates that all Australians living with chronic pain should receive a “triple A” standard of care: awareness, accessibility and affordability.

She says the government can play a role in making health care more affordable for more than 19 million Australians.

“At the rate co-payments are rising, Australians will be paying close to $50 per script for certain PBS drugs over the next five years. This is a huge burden on people with chronic pain and other debilitating conditions,” she said.

Many Australians who are struggling to afford medication have come forward, Prof Twomey said, including 20,000 people who have signed a petition to cut the PBS co-payment.

According to studies conducted by participating organisations, 36% of people think prescription drugs are too expensive and 20% say the cost exceeds their regular budget.

Research also found that health issues could be a determining factor in how people vote in federal elections, with 88% of ‘weak voters’ saying they will support candidates who pledge to act on affordability. .

This story is written by the author in a personal capacity.

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