Painful change to PBS

Tumut Pharmacy pharmacist Luke Peacock is disappointed that Panadol Osteo has been taken off the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

A Batlow pensioner has expressed his dismay at the price hike of Panadol Osteo, which has been taken off the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Jim (surname withheld by request) said he used to get a box (each contains 96 caplets) for $5.25, and now pays $6.99.

“It’s a bloody big hike,” he said.

I could understand if it was 70 or 80 cents, but not $1.75. I have to take two of them three times a day, so it is going to add up to a lot more expense, considering I am on a pension.”

Panadol Osteo is used to relieve osteoarthritis, and muscle aches and pains such as backache. Paracetamol is the active ingredient.

“I have had heart surgery and I have lung issues, and I take medication for these, but these have only gone up 10 cents. I can’t fathom why the Panadol Osteo has gone up so much. In the Batlow, Tumut, Tumbarumba area there would be many who need to take it and would be affected.”

Jim said the government had increased his pension, but he is still upset about the medication price increase.

“I don’t know why they would put money in one hand and take it out of the other,” he said.

Tumut Pharmacy pharmacist Luke Peacock said he and his staff were “pretty disappointed” that Panadol Osteo has been taken off the PBS.

“This product is the first line of treatment for people with this condition, and now doctors will stop prescribing it, and start prescribing anti-inflammatories, which have more side effects,” he said.

“Panadol Osteo is a much more effective and safer option. We have had a lot of people express their disappointment that it has been taken off the PBS. Heaps of people are now probably going without, and suffering the pain and associated risk that goes with that.”

A spokesman for the Federal Department of Health said that on January 1 2016, certain products that could also be purchased over-the-counter were delisted from general availability on the PBS.

“Consumers can continue to buy these medicines at competitive prices from pharmacies and, in some cases, other retailers without the need for a prescription,” the spokesman said.

“The delisting of these medicines was recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), an independent, expert advisory body, following consideration of submissions from suppliers and consumer groups.”

“In making its recommendation to delist paracetamol 665mg modified release tablets the PBAC recommended maintaining certain paracetamol products on the PBS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, palliative care patients and people with paraplegia or quadriplegia because of the extraordinary health challenges faced by these populations and groups respectively.

“The PBAC was asked by pharmacy and patient groups to reconsider its decision to recommend the delisting of paracetamol 665mg modified release products from the PBS. However, at its meeting in March 2016 the PBAC affirmed its delisting recommendation, noting that the same active ingredient in these products is also available at much lower costs to patients over the counter in the form of paracetamol 500 mg tablets.”