2 Dec 2013

Australian drug prices 14 times higher than UK

5:42 am on 2 December 2013

A new report shows wholesale pharmaceutical prices in Australia are more than 14 times higher than in Britain.

The Grattan Institute has compared seven Australian wholesale drug prices in December with those in Britain, New Zealand and Ontario, Canada.

The December figures show the prices of seven generic drugs fell by about a third due to the federal government's price disclosure policy.

AAP reports price disclosure tracks discounts manufacturers give to pharmacists to enable the government to cut drug prices in line with what pharmacies actually pay.

Despite the December price cuts, the Grattan Institute found Australian prices are 14 times higher than for the same drugs in the UK.

Benchmarking domestic drug prices against those in other countries would help consumers get a much better deal, the institute claims.

For six of the seven drugs that dropped in price, benchmarking would save consumers almost $A20 for a box of pills on average.

"Any business would look around to check the market price, and the government should do the same," Grattan Institute health director Stephen Duckett said in a statement.

"There is simply no reason why Australians shouldn't get a better deal on medicines."

According to the Grattan Institute report, nearly one in 10 Australians do not take medicines a doctor prescribes because of cost.