The cost of buying medicines is an everyday health expenditure that all individuals must undertake, more so if they are of advanced age as they suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, which require regular medication for the entire lifetime of the individual.
The final cost of a pill to a consumer depends upon a host of factors like the demand and supply for the medicine in question. Usually, a higher cost of raw materials used in the composition and a higher amount of time spent on research and development increases the final cost of the medicine.
Apart from this, the transportation charges and the retailer’s margin are also added to the final cost of the drug. However, at times chemists might offer a discount on the final price, in which case the consumer gets drugs at prices discounted chemist shops.
Ways To Buy Affordable Medicines In Australia
Getting Discounts At The Chemist
Consumers can get discounts on medicines at the chemist’s shops. Usually, the chemist gets a margin known as the retailer’s margin, which is the price difference between the cost of medicine for the retailer and that for the final consumer.
Both the final consumer and the chemist benefit by offering such discounts. The final consumer’s overall expenditure on medicines decreases as medicines become more affordable. For the chemist, he can get more consumers to his store by offering discounts on the prices of drugs. Thus, the chemist can increase his overall sales at the end of the month of the year.
Coverage Under Australian Government’s Support Programs
Medicines are a necessity for leading a good life. Hence most welfare states run programs to offer drugs at affordable rates to their citizens. The Australian Government runs a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme PBS.
Under this program, the Government shares some part of the cost of drugs, so the Government essentially becomes a co-payer with the consumer.
The Government has constituted a Committee that regularly suggests names of new drugs that can be included under the program.
The Committee usually chooses a drug that is safe and affordable at the same time. The Government provides price support only for the cheapest drug alternative available, and if the consumer wishes to go for an expensive brand, he has to bear the extra costs.
Also, if some people under this scheme require a lot of drugs and thus when they reach a certain threshold, the Government’s contribution increases and prices cheapen further.
Choosing Generic Medicines
Most drugs are sold as generic versions and also under multiple branded versions. However, the underlying core composition of the medicine and its effectiveness remain the same. If Australians go for generic versions of drugs instead of their branded counterparts, that will save them a lot of money and give them the same effectiveness of the medicine.
As drugs become more expensive, medical expenditure continues to burden the everyday Australian citizen. Fortunately, with the availability of good quality, generic medicines discounted at chemist shops, and welfare-oriented Government schemes, the ordinary person can pay for his medication without burning a hole in his pocket.
In 2020–21 alone, around 16.5 million Australians, approximately 65% of the total population, have taken advantage of PBS. Over half were senior citizens above the age of 65, and the highest number was between the ages of 65 and 74.
Countries like Australia are entirely developed to bear this high cost, but in most developing and underdeveloped countries, people suffer due to the exorbitant cost of medicines even today.