The Government plans to change the prescribing software used by doctors, with the default setting switched to prescribe generic drugs.
GPs would still be prescribing particular brands, but would be encouraged to prescribe generic drugs.
Professor Tim Greenaway, the chief medical adviser at the Therapeutic Goods Administration, said increased used of generics and biosimilar alternatives could deliver big savings.
Potential Budget changes on generic drugs could save $1.8 billion over the next five years.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGPs) are said to support the changes.
RACGP president Dr Bastian Seidel said “if we are committed to getting new expensive drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), doctors should be committed to prescribing generics when appropriate.”
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Health Minister Greg Hunt wants “to give patients the best access and the lowest cost,” without interfering with doctors independence. These changes should not only work in patient’s interest but be “under the control of the doctors.”
The Australian Medical Association opposes generic default prescribing.
AMA vice-president Tony Bartone said “forcing a default option to a generic, when we come to prescribing for our patients, would not be in the patient’s interests.
If these changes were to be implemented they would need to be carefully thought out and executed, as patients need to be educated about changes to their prescriptions. Doctors know patients come first and will act in the best interest of their patients firstly and foremost.