Local pharmacist Russell Smith has joined The Pharmacy Guild of Australia in petitioning the government to put Panadol Osteo back on the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme).
Mr Smith, resident pharmacist at the Cobar Pharmacy, said the government’s decision to de-list the over the counter osteoarthritis medication from the PBS as of January 1 was having an effect on local patients, many of whom are aged pensioners.
He estimates he has about 25-30 customers who are currently using the osteoarthritis medication on a monthly basis and 95 per cent of those are pensioners.
“It’s a high dose and extended action paracetamol. It’s normally used for osteoarthritis and not just for headaches and general aches and pains,” Mr Smith explained.
“It’s been on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme for a very long time and is remarkably well accepted by patients,” he said.
While there is an alternative medication on the PBS for Closing the Gap or Veterans Affairs patients, Mr Smith said there is isn’t an alternative for pensioners or other osteoarthritis sufferers.
Statistics show eight per cent of Australians have osteoarthritis, and two-thirds of these patients are women.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia claims the decision to de-list Panadol Osteo came about after an elementary error with the government basing their theory on patients using one pack a month.
Mr Smith said the normal prescription of Panadol Osteo for osteoarthritis patients is two packs per month and not one.
“Last April, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) set very clear criteria for de-listing PBS medicines on the basis they were available outside the PBS at a price no higher than the then PBS Concessional co-payment of $6.10,” the guild reported in their Jan/Feb Bulletin.
“The non-PBS’s price of two packs of Panadol Osteo was higher than the $6.10 threshold that the PBAC set for de-listing.
“The result of this flawed decision is that the vast majority of Australia’s 1.9 million osteoarthritis sufferers are now having to pay significantly more for their essential pain medication,” the bulletin article explained.