The AMA has received an assurance from the Health Minister that ‘prescribing independence would be respected and preserved’ despite any May 9 Budget initiatives to rein in health costs.
The AMA sought clarity on the issue following speculation that cost-saving measures in the Budget would include a move towards mandatory prescribing of generic drugs – for example, with prescribing software defaulting to the cheaper medicines.
“The AMA wanted confirmation that doctors could prescribe brand medications where they were the most appropriate for individual patients, and that the changes would not impose a new bureaucratic burden on busy doctors,” AMA vice-president Dr Tony Bartone said.
“These assurances were given by the Minister’s office. The AMA will support the changes on the basis that all savings are ploughed back into health,” he said.
Dr Bartone has said doctors reserved the right to clinical independence – to choose brand name medicines including for patients in situations where there may be an increased risk of medical misadventure, when filler constituents were contraindicated, and in the case of biosimilars, in recognition of their inherent differences.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has said any health savings – estimated at $1.8 billion – from increased use of generic medicines and other Budget measures would help bring new medicines onto the PBS.