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Dementia patients worried about PBS review

Alzheimer’s Australia is concerned that a current PBS review of dementia medication will restrict access to treatment.

Dementia patients and their families are worried that a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) review will see people lose access to much-needed medication, according to Alzheimer's Australia.

A review of anti-dementia drugs listed on the PBS was ordered in March this year after the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) discovered medicines were being prescribed to more people, over longer periods than originally budgeted for.

But in a submission to the review, Alzheimer's Australia has called for an increase - rather than a reduction - in access to the medication.

"We are hearing that these medications play a significant role in helping people with dementia and their carers to achieve the best quality of life," the peak body's CEO Glenn Rees said in a statement yesterday.

"Our concern is that this review might make it more difficult for people to access this medication."

About 257,000 Australians are living with dementia. When it comes to treating the condition, Rees said there were other ways to cut costs rather than just slashing access to the medication.

"The current rules are restrictive and not cost-effective when you take into account the time taken by specialists and consumers that have to jump through hoops to get access to this much-needed medication."

The inappropriate use of antipsychotic medication for dementia was also placing strain on the health budget, he said.

"Antipsychotic medications carry significant side-effects including increased risk of stroke and death.

"Improving medication management would be a far better way to improve cost-effectiveness than restricting access to the few medications which we know people value."


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