Delisting of paracetamol

Arthritis Queensland is deeply concerned by the Federal Government’s plans to delist over the counter medications, in particular osteo-paracetamol, from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

We are urging our members and anyone with arthritis to contact their local Federal MP and the office of the Federal Minister for Health to let them know about your arthritis story and how this change will affect you.

The Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP can be contacted on 02 6277 7220 or at minister.ley@health.gov.au.

Key points you can include in your email or phone call:

  • The government wants to remove subsidies for paracetamol scripts from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
  • 80% of PBS scripts for paracetamol are for the ‘osteo’ slow release formulation used for the relief of chronic arthritis pain. You can only buy this product from pharmacies.
  • For most people on a concession card, the cost of buying paracetamol osteo will double if the PBS subsidy is removed. A script supplies 2 boxes of 96 tablets for a co-payment of $6.10.  The cheapest price online for this quantity of tablets is $7.98 plus shipping fees of $6.90.  Prices from physical pharmacies range from $5.99 to $9.95 per pack, or $11.98 - $19.50 for the same quantity.
  • Not everyone has access to a discount pharmacy, especially in rural and remote areas, or feels comfortable with online purchases. Older, less mobile people may also find it difficult to shop around.  These people will be especially disadvantaged.
  • Higher costs for paracetamol may increase prescribing for other pain relief medications that are still subsidised by the PBS such as anti-inflammatories and opioids.  These products have a poorer safety profile than paracetamol.  
  • The government should retain PBS subsidies for paracetamol osteo for concession card holders. In addition better support for other pain management strategies, such as self-management education, weight loss and exercise should be put in place.