Spending on pharmaceuticals slows, but more prescriptions dispensed

While spending on health goods and services has increased overall, spending on pharmaceuticals has slowed, despite an increasing number of prescriptions dispensed, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Health expenditure Australia 2013-14: analysis by sector, looks at spending on particular areas of health, and is a companion report to Health expenditure Australia 2013-14, released in September this year.

Of recurrent expenditure in 2013-14, $58.8 billion was spent on Hospitals, $54.7 billion on Primary health care and $32.0 billion on Other health goods and services.

In 2013-14, unreferred medical services (for example, visits to a general practitioner) accounted for the greatest share of Primary health care funding at 19.3%.

'This was in contrast to earlier in the decade, when benefit-paid pharmaceuticals attracted the most spending in the primary health care sector,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Adrian Webster.

Spending on benefit-paid pharmaceuticals slowed over the last three years, despite a steady increase in the number of prescriptions dispensed. In 2013-14, the growth in benefit-paid pharmaceuticals expenditure was 1.0% in real terms, compared with a 6.3% growth in the number of prescriptions dispensed (the highest in the decade).

'This suggests that slower growth in both government and non-government spending in this area did not mean fewer services were delivered,' Dr Webster said.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 10 December 2015 

Further information: Dr Adrian Webster, AIHW, mob. 0434 022 127