GPs urged to promote generics

GPs have been urged to promote generic medicines after a report said Australians now pay $1 billion a year in primary healthcare out-of-pocket charges and a quarter are choosing not to fill prescriptions because of the cost.

The Australia Institute paper also called for prescription software that defaults to active ingredients rather than brand names, automation of the Medicare safety net, and mandated government-supplied referral forms with estimated costs of treatment and different provider options.

The research, based on a survey of 1411 Australians and available Medicare data, said Australians – including Centrelink concession cardholders – paid $557 million in gap fees for GP visits in 2009–10 plus $433 million in top-up charges for diagnostic testing. They also paid a premium of $53 million for branded medications where generic products were