The world is experiencing a “gold rush” for medicines, says an article that has sparked outrage among healthcare professionals.
Key points:The industry is expected to see a huge influx of drugs during the coming decadeThe Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will soon cover more than half the world’s populationThe pharmaceutical industry has been warned that the drugs could be “the new gold”The industry believes it is on track to hit its target of covering half of the world population by 2020, with an eye on the next decade as an opportunity to increase profitsThe Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBPS) will cover nearly half the global population by 2021, but some medical professionals fear that the scheme is on course to fail to cover half of those people by the time it is phased in.
The Pharmaceutical Alliance, which represents major pharmaceutical companies, said in a report published last week that it expects the PBS to cover more countries than it did in 2020.
The industry will see a “huge influx of medicines”, it said, with “potential shortages” in countries that have opted out of the scheme.
“The pharmaceutical companies are hoping for an opportunity, and if the government decides not to continue the programme, the PBs scheme will be fully exhausted by 2025,” the Pbs report said.
“In other words, by 2025, most people will not have access to any of the new medicines they would have been able to get from the PBPS.”
The PBPS was set up in 2005 to make life-saving drugs cheaper for the public.
It is administered through a scheme known as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Directive (PBD) which aims to protect the health of those who rely on the scheme and those who use it.
Under the directive, a patient can only receive a treatment if it is covered under the PBP, and those that do not receive it must pay a deductible for it.
The health of people who use the PBBS is important because it is considered the gold standard for preventing, detecting and treating diseases, according to the association.
But in an industry that is on its way to become a trillion-dollar business, the PBPs coverage is often not up to scratch.
The PBPs scheme covers half the population, but only about a third of those enrolled are on the programme.
It is estimated that only around 20% of people in the US are covered by the scheme, while about a quarter of those in the UK and Japan are not.
The report also said that the industry believes the PBBs coverage will be “fully exhausted” by 2025.
“If the government is determined not to keep the PBTs programme running beyond 2025, the industry estimates that half of people will have no access to drugs they would normally have been offered through the PBMPs scheme,” it said.
“While the industry is not predicting that the programme will completely fail to meet its 2020 targets, the reality is that most of the countries that are opting out will still be able to receive a small fraction of their PBMP-eligible patients.”
In Australia, the number of people on the PBPS has fallen from around 10 million in 2008 to just under 6 million in 2021.
The number of PBMPS-eligible people fell from about 60 million in 2014 to just over 36 million in 2020, but that was before the PBBs coverage was expanded to cover the whole of the country in 2020 and the scheme was expanded further in 2021 and 2024.
“In many cases, PBMMPs coverage is inadequate to meet the need of the population and the number that would otherwise be eligible for the scheme has not changed significantly since then,” the report said, adding that “the number of eligible people on PBMPMs is still far too low to meet projected population growth.”
It also said the PBMs coverage was “too small” and “is not sufficient” to cover everyone.
“Many people are not on the PBMPs programme at all and many people are excluded from it for medical reasons,” the study said.
The PBBS was created by the European Union in 2015 to help finance the development of new medicines.
It was initially intended to cover a certain number of diseases but since its introduction, it has expanded to encompass more than 70 diseases.