The real cost of

rising prescription medicine prices

On the 1st of January 2022, the cost of medicines listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) increased again. This is due to the rise in the maximum co-payment, meaning many commonly used drugs now cost $42.50 per prescription under the PBS for the 19 million patients without a concession card, a cost that has doubled since 20001.

Almost everyone pays something towards the cost of medicines, and co-payments are the difference between the full price of a medicine and the amount the government pays. The PBS aims to provide all Australians with affordable and safe medication, but unfortunately, rising costs are negatively impacting the health and wallets of millions of people.​​

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports more than 900,000 Australians delayed or didn’t have prescriptions filled in 2019-20 due to the cost2. The rising cost of living3 and prescription medicines have caused many Australians to be unable to afford life-saving medication for diabetes, asthma, heart failure, or anaphylaxis.

You can do something about it. Demand affordable medicines now.


Healthcare affordability is becoming a significant pain point for household budgets. 1 in 5 Australians describes prescription medicines as unaffordable4. Families, retirees and low-income earners are particularly struggling with the rising cost of living, while research has found this issue disproportionately impacts women.

Over the past few years, the cost of living in Australia and throughout the world has steadily increased. Australians are being warned they will be forced to fork out more for everyday items as the cost of living reaches new heights. Oil prices, petrol prices, groceries, and flights to different states or countries are all on the rise, hurting the Australian hip pocket more than they did before the pandemic began. At the current rate, patients without a concession card could be paying almost $50 per prescription for medicines they need to stay healthy by the end of this decade5.

People should never be forced to sacrifice their medications. Across the country, rural and regional communities, low-income workers, families and retirees all face a shortage of essentials and a need to protect their health. PBS medicines which are becoming unaffordable, are being used for conditions including:

  • diabetes
  • asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • stroke/thrombosis prevention
  • heart failure
  • inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease
  • smoking cessation
  • ADHD
  • severe cystic acne
  • schizophrenia
  • long-acting contraception
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • epilepsy
  • anaphylaxis

Millions of Australians will face a crippling financial burden if prescription medicine prices continue to rise. It’s easy for you to send your local member of parliament a message to ask them how they will provide Australians with affordable prescription medicines.

You can support millions of Australians by sending a letter to your local MP

Australia has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and rising medicine costs are another problem that everyday Australians face. Due to increasing living costs and a general climate of uncertainty, medicines are swiftly becoming something people have to choose over other necessities like food, rent, and electricity.

In a study conducted for the pharmacy industry’s peak body, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, independent research found that nearly a third of middle-income households without concession cards have difficulties affording PBS medications6.

Have you ever struggled to afford your medicines? Share your story

Inaction on affordable medicines won’t only cost the health of Australians, it will cost the government substantially in the coming years. According to UTS modelling, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and depression conditions alone could cost the federal budget $10.4 billion in a year in terms of hospitalisations and lost productivity7.

You can do something about it. Demand affordable medicines now.


It’s obvious that with an increasing number of patients being forced to choose between medications and putting food on the table, it’s not only unacceptable, it’s unsustainable. Pharmacists are worried that more preventable illnesses and even deaths will result from choosing between essential items like rent, groceries, and petrol and life-saving medicines.

Australians shouldn’t have to choose between prescription medicines and other essentials.

Affordable Medicines Now is asking Canberra to lower the cost of prescription medicines for over 19 million Australians who don’t qualify for a concession card. We hope you join us in protecting the health of all Australians.