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Are Australians Able to Access New Medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in a More or Less Timely Manner? An Analysis of Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee Recommendations, 1999–2003

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      ABSTRACT

      Objective

      Timely access to necessary medicines that Australians need is one of the four pillars of the Australian Government's National Medicines Policy. We were interested to determine whether there was a change in the time taken for medicines to be listed once recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

      Methods

      Descriptive statistics were used to show the pattern of recommendations for PBAC meetings from 1999 to 2003. For successful recommendations, we developed a linear regression model to analyze the time to list from the PBAC meeting to date of listing (time to list). The model determined whether this time had changed over the 4-year period, and the reasons for any changes.

      Results

      The PBAC made 307 positive recommendations at its 17 meetings over the study period. Ninety percent resulted in a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing on or before April 1, 2005. Eighty-two percent of the recommendations made in 1999 and 2000 resulted in early or on-time listings. In 2001, 2002, and 2003, the comparable proportions were 67%, 68%, and 75%. Mean times to list for the years from 1999 to 2003 were similar (approximately 23 weeks), except in 2001 where it was 30 weeks.

      Conclusions

      Over the study period, 90% of all PBAC recommendations resulted in a PBS listing. In 2001 there was a statistically significant increase in the mean time to list. In addition, it appears that recommendations for new listings and new indications (medicines that are likely to result in substantial Government expenditure) were associated with a longer time to list.

      Keywords

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