Feeding the chooks to disguise PBAC override

THE role of the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) of approving cost-effective medicines has been overturned by the Gillard Cabinet for an indefinite period. The Coalition believes this will last until at least 2014, by when Prime Minister Gillard has promised to bring the budget back into surplus.

So, for the sake of risking another broken election promise – the latest one being that there will be no carbon tax – this Government has brazenly overridden the PBAC in the interests of trying to meet its budget forecast. 

By doing so, it has thrown the nation’s health into the basket labelled ‘too hard’.

Coming on top of refusing to commit to continue the National Bowel Cancer Screening programme without explanation (and deferring a bowel cancer drug recommended by PBAC back in July), the announcement on 25 February by Health Minister Nicola Roxon bodes poorly for the PBAC and its rigorous