Let’s Talk: Are we being charged more for medications because we’re older?

Panadol Osteo, a common over-the-counter medication for sufferers of osteoarthritis, is about to soar in price tomorrow. Federal Health Minister
Let's Talk
via My Osteo

Panadol Osteo, a common over-the-counter medication for sufferers of osteoarthritis, is about to soar in price tomorrow. Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has slammed the manufacturer for the increase of 50 per cent, and is calling on the ACCC to investigate.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports earlier this month, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline told its wholesalers it would lift its prices for Panadol Osteo by 50 per cent on January 1. If pharmacies pass on the full price rise, consumers will have to pay $7.50 a box – up from $5.

According to GlaxoSmithKline, the price rise is due to changes to the PBS, which will see the government stop subsidising medications that can be purchased cheaply over-the-counter in the New Year.

“In moving to an over-the-counter business model, GlaxoSmithKline is no longer able to sustain its current pricing of Panadol Osteo,” the letter to its wholesalers said.

Sussan Ley said thiw wasn’t true and the changes to the PBS imposed no extra administrative or regulator costs.

“[The PBS reform] aims to address inconsistencies that see consumers without a prescription purchasing a common over-the-counter medicine such as Panadol Osteo or an equivalent brand for under $5 off-the-shelf or online from many pharmacies, while a concessional patient buying it through a prescription pays $7.52,” she said.

“Therefore, attempts by the makers of Panadol Osteo to link their proposed 50 per cent price increase to Government regulatory changes without any detail to support their claims can only be interpreted as an attempt to mislead consumers and pharmacists.”

Ms Ley is now urging consumers to shop around.

Joe Demarte, president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, said people taking over-the-counter medicines on prescription for osteoarthritis, headaches and heartburn or have suffered a stroke, should urgently consult their pharmacist.

“It’s vital for these patients to contact their pharmacist or prescriber to ensure they’re aware of all medication options for managing their condition,” he said.

“Pharmacists know from previous experience that changes to PBS rules can cause confusion for patients and carers, especially during the Christmas holiday period.”

Panadol Osteo isn’t the only type of over-the-counter medication to be scrapped from the PBS next year – there are 16 others, including common drugs for heartburn and skin allergies.

So we ask the question today: Are we paying more for medications because we’re older? It oftens eems like the people who need these medications the most are the ones who can’t afford it.

What do you think?

  1. Since it seems to be the only med that helps unless they legalise marijuana, we have to pay it….although there are cheaper brands!

  2. It is always the way. You find something that works and they either double the price or they take it off the market.

  3. They must have put the price down over the counter . I am supposed to take them regularly but since cutting fish from my diet don’t need. About 2 years ago I was paying $5.90 a packet with a script and this year in February was desperate so went to a chemist and he offered me a generic which was over $6 and said the panadol was over a dollar dearer.

  4. well isn’t this great, those with chronic pain will not only have to pay more to get some small amount of relief, but now they are going to bump the price up!! Just kick us when we are old..honestly !!!

    • Seems to be the case Libbi, I’ve had an arthritis flare up of late, i got a packet from Blacksmiths Pharmacy on my way out to Swansea 2 days ago for $6.90, it seems an obvious case of Corporate Greed doesn’t it..

    • For sure Rob, they can see that they on a good thing with us, it is a product that many older Australian’s need just to make it through the day

    • Since this arthritis flare up after our Sri Lanka trip Libbi, I’ve had to rely on them, so we are a captive crippled audience for the want of a better description.

    • Yes Libbi I agree with you…..I take them regularly for chronic osteo arthritis pain…can’t take stronger due to other problems…..a big jump in price from $6.20 for 2 boxes to $20. Thanks for nothing!!!!

    • I agree with you all, it is just an added cost at the end of the fortnight , that I can do without

    • It sucks….when you are in this sort of pain you need them…I’m told marijuana is better but until they legalise it l won’t know! Happy New Year everyone! ! 🙂

    • If you buy the ‘chemist brand’ it is usually a bit cheaper and the same product.

  5. we all need the wrong drug, get addicted to heroin and they will give you Methadone for free and free needles. I blame the Liberal Government for this

  6. I’m sorry I don’t know where that price came from, because they are already $7.90 per pack of 98 in my area if you have to buy them over the counter. If you had a script for them then you got 2 packs for $6.20, of course we are being ripped off with everything we have to buy these days. I don’t know why the ACCC has been asked to investigate this because they are the most useless organisation EVER because the outcome is usually in favour of the companies they investigate. IT’S JUST TO BE SEEN DOING SOMETHING, END OF STORY, I have no confidence or trust in the ACCC.

  7. I blame the company that makes it, not the government. It seems strange that it can be sold over the counter for less than prescription cost but the minute the government takes it off the PBS to save money the company decides to increase the price! The cost to produce it can’t have gone up that much overnight.

    • Because it has been taken off the PBS it also means the government subsidy has been stopped, therefore the company is passing on what they are missing out on in subsidies. It is plain greed though.

    • I still don’t agree with some medications eg Panadol being available on PBS. If you pay between $4 to $5 for a packet over the counter why pay $6 for a script? And if you take so many Panadol aren’t you getting liver damage?

      • Jean Fernihough  

        I was thinking the same thing. Think of your liver.

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