Australians ripped off over price of medicine again 53



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In an Australian Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, multinational pharmaceutical companies have been unable to say that Australians aren’t being ripped off over the price of medicine.

This all after news last year that Australians pay up to 21 times more than Brits for 19 of our 20 most commonly used prescription medicines.

The heads of nine multinational pharmaceutical companies have been gathered to answer questions on how they handle paying tax on their Australian sales, but the real bombshell is their cavalier attitude to what is the final price for medicine at our cash registers.

Sam Dastyari, the committee chairman Sam Dastyari pointedly asked the executives of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline the following question:

“As the CEOs of three of Australia’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, you have no idea what drugs cost in other jurisdictions? You can’t tell us whether we’re getting ripped off?”

The answer from all three was that they could not.

The head of Pfizer, David Gallagher was hit particularly hard in questioning. He didn’t know what other Pfizer subsidiaries paid for drugs manufactured by the company in Ireland, and then declined to answer a question on how the pricing structure worked internally.

In response to his poor performance Senator Edwards said: “May I say Mr Gallagher, this isn’t going too well for you. This is starting to look like something that’s being fabricated to minimise your tax … that’s not going to pass the pub test.”

Pfizer had Australian sales of $1.4 billion in 2014 but paid just $21 million in company tax. And Pfizer is doing quite well out of our pocket. It received $700 million in public money in 2014 through our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Here’s a recent top 10 list of prescribed medicine in Australia:

  1. Atorvastatin
  2. Esomeprazole
  3. Simvastatin
  4. Rosuvastatin
  5. Paracetamol
  6. Perindopril
  7. Pantoprazole
  8. Metformin hydrochloride
  9. Atenolol
  10. Arbesartan

What do you think about the price of your medicine? Has it increased in recent years?



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  1. Normal chemist charge me $36 for my blood pressure tablets chemist warehouse charge me $11 so yes I’m happy

    1 REPLY
  2. My family in UK pay far far less for their scripts and certain medicines are free. My sister a pensioner has free prescriptions just because she is retired. There is no means test there.

  3. Wait til the PTP is signed there will be another shock

    1 REPLY
    • I know you mean the TPP or Trans Pacific Partnership, when is Starts At Sixty going to do an expose on that little beauty?? Our government is selling our sovereign rights to global big business. This is real, have a look at some provisions, our government could be sued for interfering with an American Companies profits by banning plain packaging on cigarettes in some international kangaroo court.
      Yes we are being ripped off, “Nexium” $1 per cap in OZ, 10 cents a cap in Thailand, over the counter, no prescription required.

  4. So what is new its being going on for years and will get worse once the PTP is signed our Governments have never had the guts to stand up to Multinationsl Drug companies pretty pathetic really

  5. 2 of mine are on the list! Anyway, in Australia we are being ripped of with almost everything

  6. Why don’t people try and get off prescription meds..most are unnecessary anyway and only boost Big Pharma’s bottom line, not your health.

    5 REPLY
    • What a great idea.
      Then people with heart conditions can just suffer heart attacks and die. Asthmatics can suffocate. People with arthritis can just live in constant pain. Diabetics can die in diabetic comas. Cancer patients can just suffer. Hemophiliacs can just bleed to death.
      You really have a great idea there.
      “Eye roll”.

    • Do a bit of research! Prescription meds are now the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer! Haven’t you heard of nutrition and exercise as a way to improve your health…Most chronic conditions can be reversed using natural methods. People these days are so lazy…good health requires effort, there are no magic pill solutions. Drugs mask and suppress symptoms, they do not cure disease.

      1 REPLY
      • What a dill, you probably did all your research on the Internet, if that is where you saw it, it is bound to be true, do not display your ignorance publicly, you are embarrassing your children. LOL

    • @Helen Absolon…While I agree with some of your points, it is not always so simple. Some conditions require the use of pharmaceuticals. Best to use all the tools in the box. There are also issues of conditioning to address as well.

    • Helen Absolon You really need to think before you comment. Many people with chronic illnesses would die if they stopped taking prescription medication and most conditions CANNOT be reversed using natural remedies! Heaven forbid! Don’t encourage people to stop taking their medication!

    • Most chronic conditions are the result of poor life-style choices e.g. heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers.. this is even acknowledged by mainstream medicine. If you look after your nutrition, exercise adequately, dont smoke, drink very moderately etc your dependence on pharma meds can be reduced or even completely eliminated. I am 67 and have never been on prescription meds and want to keep it that way by putting in the effort to maintain my present excellent health.

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