News National Why do Australians pay so much more for medicine?

Why do Australians pay so much more for medicine?

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The costs of seven medicines may have fallen but Australia’s wholesale pharmaceutical prices are still more than 14 times higher than other countries, a new report shows.

The Grattan Institute has compared seven Australian wholesale drug prices in December with those in the UK, New Zealand and Ontario, Canada.

The December figures show the prices of seven generic drugs fell by about a third due to the federal government’s price disclosure policy.

Price disclosure tracks discounts manufacturers give to pharmacists to enable the government to cut drug prices in line with what pharmacies actually pay.

Despite the December price cuts, the Grattan Institute found Australian prices are 14 times higher than for the same drugs in the UK.

Benchmarking domestic drug prices against those in other countries would help consumers get a much better deal, the institute claims.

For six of the seven drugs that dropped in price, benchmarking would save consumers almost $20 for a box of pills on average.

“Any business would look around to check the market price, and the government should do the same,” Grattan Institute health director Stephen Duckett said in a statement.

“There is simply no reason why Australians shouldn’t get a better deal on medicines.”

Price disclosure has not gone far enough or worked fast enough, and it is time for a new approach, Dr Duckett added.

But it’s not just the need to ease the impact to the hip pocket.

According to the Grattan Institute report, nearly one in 10 Australians do not take medicines a doctor prescribes because of cost.