Access to Medicines in Australia: HCP Perceptions vs. Reality


Access to medicines is a critical issue for healthcare systems around the world, and Australia is no exception. We recently asked 450 Australian GPs and Specialists to rate access to medicines in Australia in their specialty compared to countries with similar healthcare systems.

67% of GPs and Specialists rated access as good or great, however, analysis conducted by The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and published in their recent ‘Global Access to New Medicines Report’, April 2023 found that far fewer new medicines are winning reimbursement in Australia compared to many other OECD countries (for example, only 24% vs 48% for Japan), and time to PBS listing is far longer than countries such as Germany (4 times longer) and the United Kingdom (2 times longer).

When we explore some key therapy areas, the good and great rating increases for Oncology (88%) and Immunology (80%), but decreases for Neuroscience (61%), Cardio-Metabolic (54%) and Haematology (52%). Interestingly, Medical Oncologists are significantly more likely to rate access to medicines as good or great compared with Haematologists (88% vs 52%).

Is there a disconnect between how healthcare professionals perceive access to medicines in Australia and the reality of the situation?

Given the PhRMA findings, should Australian healthcare professionals or their peak bodies be more active in their advocacy for increased PBS funding and faster decisions about access, and is there a role for pharma companies to provide greater education to local healthcare professionals on the reality of access to new medicines in Australia?

Ultimately, ensuring timely access to new medicines and technologies is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and collaboration between stakeholders across the healthcare system. It’s only by working together to address the challenges associated with accessing new treatments that we can improve health outcomes for all Australians and ensure that our healthcare system remains among the best in the world.