Combo therapies end up costing more: expert

Research by Professor Philip Clarke from the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health found that while the pharmaceutical industry often uses cost-minimisation – in terms of lower dispensing fees and a lower price compared to separate components, along with improved adherence and efficacy – to justify listing FDC drugs on the PBS, subsequent reductions in their cost are not always linked to equivalent reductions in the prices of components.

For example, the additional cost to the government for the FDC of ezetimibe and simvastatin is about $20 million per year compared to the separate components. In contrast, using FDCs with ezetimibe is not recommended in the UK due to the higher cost.

Professor Clarke also cited the problem of price disclosure for multiple brands, where there is no link to the cost of separate components and less competition due to fewer manufacturers when it comes to the inflated costs of FDCs.