This is the ninth annual report to the Parliament on the processes leading to the consideration by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) of applications for recommendation for listing of items on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This report covers the 2017-18 financial year.
This annual report has been prepared pursuant to subsection 99YBC(5) of the National Health Act 1953 (the Act), under which it is required that:
The Secretary must, as soon as practicable after June 30 in each year, prepare and give to the Minister a report on processes leading up to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee consideration, including:
a) the extent and timeliness with which responsible persons are provided copies of documents relevant to their submission to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee;
b) the extent to which responsible persons exercise their right to comment on these documents, including appearing at hearings before the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee;
c) the number of responsible persons seeking a review of the Pharmaceutical Benefits
Advisory Committee recommendation.
The PBAC is established under section 100A of the Act and is an independent expert body appointed by the Australian Government. Members include doctors, health professionals, health economists, as well as industry and consumer nominees. Its primary role is to consider medicines for listing on the PBS and vaccines for inclusion on the National Immunisation Program (NIP). No new medicine can be listed unless the PBAC makes a positive recommendation to the Minister for Health (the Minister). The PBAC holds three scheduled meetings each year, usually in March, July and November.
When considering a medicine for listing, the PBAC takes into account the medical condition(s) for which the medicine was registered for use in Australia and its clinical effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness (‘value for money’) compared with other treatments, including non-medical treatments.
The PBAC has three sub-committees to assist with analysis and advice in these areas. They are the:
- Economics Sub-Committee (ESC), which assesses clinical and economic evaluations of medicines submitted to the PBAC for listing, and advises the PBAC on the technical aspects of these evaluations;
- Drug Utilisation Sub-Committee (DUSC), which assesses estimates on projected usage and the financial cost of medicines. It also collects and analyses data on actual use (including in comparison with different countries), and provides advice to the PBAC; and
- Nutritional Products Working Party (NPWP), which advises the PBAC on matters relating to the effectiveness and use of therapeutic foods and nutritional products.
Roles of the PBAC
- Recommends medicines and medicinal preparations to the Minister for funding under the PBS.
- Recommends vaccines to the Minister for funding under the NIP (since 2006).
- Advises the Minister and Department about cost-effectiveness.
- Recommends maximum quantities and repeats on the basis of community use, and any restrictions on the indications where PBS subsidy is available.
- Regularly reviews the list of PBS items.
- Advises the Minister about any other matters relating to the PBS, including on any matter referred to it by the Minister.
Requirements of Section 99YBC of the Act
a) Extent and timeliness of the provision of relevant documents to responsible persons
The PBAC provides responsible persons88 with documents relevant to their submissions in an orderly, timely and transparent fashion. This is achieved through the well‑established practice of providing responsible persons with documents relevant to their submissions six weeks before the applicable PBAC meeting. These documents are referred to as ‘commentaries’.
Applicants’ pre-subcommittee response(s) are received by the PBAC Secretariat five weeks before the relevant PBAC meeting. Following the meeting of PBAC subcommittees, the PBAC Secretariat provides relevant subcommittee papers to responsible persons two weeks before the relevant PBAC meeting. Sponsors then provide their responses to the PBAC Secretariat one week before the PBAC meeting.
Following the PBAC meeting the PBAC Secretariat provides verbal advice on the outcomes of PBAC consideration to the relevant sponsor half a week after the meeting, with written advice provided three weeks (positive recommendations) and five weeks (all other recommendations) after the relevant PBAC meeting.
Where requested, the PBAC Secretariat, the PBAC and its subcommittees provide informal access to departmental officers and formal access to the PBAC for responsible persons or their representative, including the option for the sponsor to appear before the PBAC in person.
b) Extent to which responsible persons comment on their commentaries
During 2017-18, the PBAC held three ordinary meetings (as is usual practice) and also considered submissions at a special meeting in December 2017. A total of 89 major submissions were considered. For the:
- July 2017 PBAC meeting, 26 responsible persons lodged major submissions and 26 sponsors responded to their commentaries;
- November 2017 PBAC meeting, 34 responsible persons lodged major submissions and 34 sponsors responded to their commentaries;
- December 2017 PBAC meeting, five responsible persons lodged major submissions and five sponsors responded to their commentaries and one sponsor withdrew its submission before responding to its commentary; and
- March 2018 PBAC meeting, 24 responsible persons lodged major submissions, 24 sponsors responded to their commentaries and one sponsor withdrew its submission before responding to its commentary.
Consequently, of the 89 major submissions considered by PBAC in 2017-18, 89 responsible persons exercised their right to respond to their commentaries.
c) Number of responsible persons seeking a review of PBAC recommendations
During the 2017-18 financial year, there were no requests to the PBAC for an Independent Review.
88 Responsible person is the person or corporation with a registered ABN that is the supplier of a particular brand of medicine on the PBS. Further information available at: www.pbs.gov.au
Number and category of applications for each PBAC meeting in 2017-18
Number and category of withdrawn applications for each PBAC meeting in 2017-18
Number of responsible persons that responded to their commentaries, including appearing before PBAC meetings
All of the responsible persons who submitted a major submission to PBAC during 2017-18 responded to their commentary.
91 Figures do not take into account extended meetings where two or more drugs are discussed within one meeting date.