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Budget 2023: Major change to save Aussies hundreds on medicine

Six million Aussies will see the cost of their medicine halved.

Chemist Warehouse. Australian money. Medicine concept.
Aussies will be able to save up to $180 a year on medicines. (Source: Getty/AAP)

Millions of Aussies will be able to access cheaper medicines and spend less time going to the doctor and pharmacist, under a major change included in next month’s federal budget.

From September 1, Aussies will be able to buy two months’ worth of medicines for the price of a single monthly prescription.

“Every year, nearly a million Australians are forced to delay or go without a medicine that their doctor has told them is necessary for their health,” Health Minister Mark Butler said.

“This cheaper-medicines policy is safe, good for Australians’ hip pockets and, most importantly, good for their health."

How much can you save?

Aussies will be able to save $180 a year if their medicine can be prescribed for 60 days instead of 30 days. Concession card holders will be able to save $43.80 per year per medicine. Over the next four years, it is expected to save patients more than $1.6 billion.

Which medicines will be cheaper?

The change will apply to more than 320 medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including medicines for conditions like heart disease, cholesterol, Crohn’s disease and hypertension.

‘Affordable medicines now a reality’

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed the change and said it would provide immediate relief for Aussies battling with the rising cost of living.

“We know patients are struggling to afford essential medicines as cost-of-living increases continue to bite the household budget, and research tells us some patients are skipping medicines because of this — that just shouldn’t be happening,” AMA president Professor Steve Robson said.

“Today’s announcement effectively halves the costs of these medicines for patients, and means more affordable medicines now are a reality for these patients.”

In line with other countries

Introducing 60-day prescriptions for stable, ongoing conditions was first recommended by the Pharmaceutical Advisory Committee in 2018.

The change will bring Australia into line with New Zealand, the UK, France and Canada, where patients can already access multiple-month medications in a single prescription.

Doctors will still be able to make the call about whether a 30-day or 60-day supply is appropriate for the individual patient.

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