Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Mental health services in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 03 July 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Mental health services in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia
Mental health services in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 17 May 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Mental health services in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Jul. 3]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Mental health services in Australia, viewed 3 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia
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The Australian Government subsidises the cost of prescription medicines through two schemes, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) for eligible veterans and their dependants.
People fall into two broad classes: general and concessional. Concessional beneficiaries include pensioners, Health Care card holders, Commonwealth Seniors Health card holders and Veterans card holders. Under the PBS/RPBS, the patient is required to contribute a co-payment which is indexed annually; $40.30 for general patients and $6.50 for those with a concession card as of 1 January 2019. If a medicine is priced below the relevant co-payment threshold the consumer pays the full price and the prescription is classified as ‘under co-payment’. If a medicine is not listed in the PBS Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits, the consumer pays the full price as a private prescription, and the data is not included in the presented tables.
The collection of under co-payment prescription data for the PBS and RPBS commenced on 1 April 2012. The data collected is identical to that collected for subsidised prescriptions. Prior to 2012 the only source of under co-payment data was a survey of pharmacies funded by the Australian Government Department of Health (see the information on the drug utilisation sub-committee (DUSC) below). Time series presentation of survey data with the under co-payment data is not possible prior to 2012–13 as the DUSC data may have been an underestimate of prescription volumes.
Most prescriptions for General Schedule medicines (Section 85) are dispensed through community pharmacies, but PBS is also available in private hospitals and through eligible public hospitals to patients on discharge and day patients. In addition, a number of drugs are distributed under alternative arrangements where these are considered more appropriate (Section 100). Examples are the Highly Specialised Drugs program and General Schedule medicines that are supplied directly to Indigenous patients via Aboriginal Health Services in remote areas of Australia (AHS program).
PBS/RPBS does not include the following:
Services Australia processes all prescriptions dispensed under the PBS/RPBS and provides this data to the Australian Government Department of Health. The PBS/RPBS data maintained by the Department of Health has been used to produce this report. Information collected includes the characteristics of the person who is provided with the prescription, the medication prescribed (for example, type and cost), the prescribing practitioner and the supplying pharmacy (for example, location). The figures reported relate to the number of mental health-related prescriptions supplied by pharmacies and processed by Services Australia in the reporting period, the number of people provided with the prescriptions and their characteristics, as well as the prescription costs funded by the PBS and RPBS (further information can be found in the Expenditure section).
Although the PBS and RPBS data capture most of the prescribed medicines dispensed in Australia, these data have the following limitations:
Only one of these has a bearing on the mental health-related prescriptions data published in the Prescriptions and Expenditure sections: the Aboriginal health services program. Most affected are the data for Remote and Very remote areas and the data for the Northern Territory. Consequently, the mental health-related prescriptions data in these sections will not fully reflect Australian Government expenditure on mental health-related medications.
The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification version used is the primary classification as it appears in the PBS Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits. This can differ slightly from the World Health Organization (WHO) version (WHO 2021). There are three differences between the WHO ATC classification and the PBS Schedule classification that have a bearing on mental health data:
Source: PBS/RPBS data maintained by Department of Health and sourced from DHS.
Clozapine (N05A) historical data incomplete
Clozapine is PBS listed under the Highly Specialised Drugs (HSD) program, and prior to 2015 was only available through public and private hospital pharmacies. Due to differing HSD funding arrangements over time, historical prescription/patient data is incomplete:
Drug Utilisation Sub-Committee (DUSC) database
Previous Mental health services in Australia prescription data products included data sourced from the DUSC database. From 1 April 2012, following the implementation of the under co-payment data collection, the DUSC-sponsored Pharmacy Guild survey ceased to be the source of under co-payment prescription data. As a result, time series data prior to 2012–13 for under co-payment data has been removed from the tables as the previous survey methodology may be an underestimate of the volumes of under co-payment prescriptions.
A PBS/RPBS prescription is subsidised when the dispensed price of a medication exceeds the patient co-payment. The PBS/RPBS covers the difference between the full cost of the medication and the patient co-payment.
A PBS/RPBS prescription is classified as under co-payment when there is no government subsidy as the dispensed price of the prescription does not exceed the patient co-payment, and the patient pays the full cost of the medication.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2020. Impacts of COVID-19 on Medicare Benefits Scheme and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme service use. Cat. no. ACM 42. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 09 April 2021.
WHO 2021. ATC: Structure and principles. Oslo: WHO Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology. Viewed 13 April 2021.
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