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Reference pricing for pharmaceuticals: is the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement affecting Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme?

Thomas A Faunce
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (4): 240-242.

Unless the federal government changes the course of our medicines policy with intention, Australia’s pricing of patented pharmaceuticals is likely to follow inequitable US trends

Proposed amendments to the National Health Act 1953 (Cwlth) are currently being considered by the Australian federal government. The National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2007 (the Bill) includes several changes that will limit reference pricing under the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Here, I argue that these amendments have been influenced by the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) and, further, that if US influence on Australian medicines policy continues, there are likely to be adverse consequences for all Australians, involving the erosion of scientific objectivity and equity in PBS processes and, eventually, the end of public-funded medicines.

  • Thomas A Faunce

  • Medical School and College of Law, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.

Correspondence: Thomas.Faunce@anu.edu.au

Competing interests:

I am Director of an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant investigating the impact of international trade agreements on Australian medicines policy. The ARC was not involved in writing this paper.

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