Not all drugs are equal

Let’s have a look at the PBS, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. So this is the scheme that allows us as Australians to pay a bit less for many of out drugs. For example, Ventolin, would cost over $30.00 but with the PBS we pay about $12.00 and if you have a concession card or you have “Close The Gap” you pay about $6.00.

When it comes to the more expensive drugs the ones that are commonly used for Mental Health issues, Chronic Disease and Cancer, they can be expensive and not on the PBS. I have issues with the fact that Viagra is on the PBS, but many cancer drugs are not? Who decided this? The same person who decided that female sanitary products should be taxed?

I await every time there is an announcement on what is going to be allowed on the PBS. I am hoping that more cancer drugs will be allowed. There is an inequality in how the PBS is done. The system is flawed when a drug for prostate cancer is on the PBS, for me who have prostate cancer. But for women who use the drug for cancer we aren’t eligible. Okay it’s not just women, it’s every one. In point of fact one of the drugs, can be used for breast cancer for some women and is used for brain cancer ( I know because I take it). Yet we don’t get it on the PBS, we have to pay full price.

I have heard of some males who have breast cancer complain that one of the treatments they can use is only on the PBS for women. How is that fair? If a drug is found to be effective and that it can be used for other purposes just release it, let it be used for all conditions. Another strange one is a topical cream I have to use when I have reactions to different things. This simple cream is not on the PBS, so when I get a small tube, and trust me it is a small tube I am paying nearly $100.00. so of course I use it sparingly, just as the instructions tell me.

Many of the medications needed in the mental health area cost a lot of money, now this is unfair as many of those who need these medications quite often have lost their jobs due to their illness and we are putting an extra stress on them by not having them on the PBS. While some of them cost around a hundred dollars or less, when you can’t use your health card to get a discount (healthcare cards only give discounts for PBS medications). This is an expense that just builds up, and its one of the reason some people don’t take their medications, they simply just can’t afford it. Think about it, you have to pay the rent, buy food, pay the electricity. Does the medication seem that important? Not really when you are facing possible homelessness. So having these medications on the PBS would save money in the long run. We talk in Australia how mental illness is on the increase and the amount of money it costs the tax payers. So one simple step, and the government paying the difference could make a huge difference to the way we as a society function and help so many individuals and families.

Now I have no problem paying over a hundred dollars for a nice perfume, but that is a one of a luxury, not something that I need to get every week or fortnight, that is where the difference comes in. I shouldn’t in this society where Viagra and Botox are on PBS pay a fortune for something that another person can get cheaper or for free, just because someone has deemed its usage to be only for one particular thing.

I think that we all need to talk to each other, read up on the PBS and talk to our politicians about how this works. You might not need it now, but you might need it in later years, and you don’t want to be like me, struggling to pay for medications, that you daren’t not get just because you are the wrong gender or need it for a different use.


About proudblacksista

An Aboriginal woman. mother of 4 diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour 7 years ago.I want to share my story to help others. I am working to help other Aboriginal people face the battles of Cancer. Email me with your stories or concerns at View all posts by proudblacksista

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