New research confirms the effectiveness of the Closing the Gap prescription measure

Ethan FrenchNews

Recent research published in Health Affairs, a leading international journal on health policy, thought and research, has shown how the Closing the Gap (CTG) prescription measure is significantly improving medicines access by addressing cost barriers. This CTG prescription measure could have a significant impact on improving health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples related to chronic disease. 

To access the health journal here is the link https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.01089

Researchers found that the CTG measure’s reductions in medicines co-payments were associated with a relative increase of 39% in the use of medicines and a reduction of 61% in out-of-pocket spending for the patient.  Researchers noted that such a measure was particularly important for populations with marked social disadvantage and a known high burden of chronic disease.

NACCHO welcomes the research which further corroborates previous research and feedback from members about the effectiveness and utility of the CTG prescription measure.  This research further supports the need to expand the CTG measure as recommended with the Indigenous Pharmacy Programs Review.  There is universal support for this enhanced approach by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and stakeholders across Australia.

NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills said, “Maintaining and improving access to essential Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines remains a priority for NACCHO and our members, and this research shows that when access is improved the health benefits are clear. Improving access to evidenced-based PBS medicines is one important way to improve health equity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.”

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis said, “It is indeed heartening to have this confirmation of the benefit and merits of the CTG prescription measure. It confirms the importance of ensuring there are no avoidable barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples gaining access to pharmaceutical benefits scheme medicines.

“As we have said before, we also need to look at ways to improve on this beneficial measure so that its positive impact on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is maximised,” Mr Tambassis said.

CEO Medicines Australia, Elizabeth de Somer commented on the research, “Medicines Australia welcomes the research confirming the effectiveness of the Closing the Gap – PBS Co-payment Measure. Improving medicines compliance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will have far-reaching benefits for individuals and entire communities and will help to ensure better health and avoid complications of chronic diseases.”