Prices cut for 1400 medications

New medications are now eligible for the government's PBS subsidy.

Price reductions and subsidies will be applied to more than 1400 medications in a change estimated to save Australians half a billion dollars in the coming years.

The discounts, available under the government's pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS), will make medication more affordable for people suffering from types of cancer, high blood pressure, mental health conditions and arthritis.

"Millions of Australians suffering from a range of health conditions will benefit from lower-priced medications," says Greg Hunt, the federal Minister for Health.

"For the many Australians who take multiple medications daily, the savings will be considerable."

Among the most heavily discounted drugs is brexpiprazole (brand name Rexulti), a medication used to treat schizophrenia, added to the PBS in an effort to broaden the treatment options for mental illness.

The drug, which previously cost $145 per script, will now cost $38.80 at most, and just $6.30 for concession holders.

Other medications that are now cheaper for general patients include:

  • tamoxifen for breast cancer – around 84,000 scripts (for 20,000 patients) will be up to $3.50 (or 11.6%) cheaper per script

  • leflunomide for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis – around 78,000 scripts (for 17,000 patients) will be up to $4.24 (or 11.4%) cheaper per script

  • telmisartan for high blood pressure – around 1.28 million scripts (for 160,000 patients) will be up to $1.75 (or 9.3%) cheaper per script

  • quetiapine for mental health conditions – 190,000 scripts (for 48,000 patients) will be up to $5.94 (or 20.7%) cheaper per script

  • capecitabine for certain types of cancer – around 17,000 scripts (for 4300 patients) will be up to $6.26 (or 18.7%) cheaper per script.

The discounts are estimated to save taxpayers $430 million and patients $75 million. They came into effect 2 October.