National Health Amendment Bill 2021: More transparency and community consultation needed

In News by AIVL

More transparency and community consultation is needed before passing the National Health Amendment Bill 2021

The AIVL network calls on the Australian Parliament to allow for community consultation before the National Health Amendment (Enhancing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme [PBS]) Bill 2021 is rammed through.

‘Nothing About Us, Without Us!’ is a well-known rally cry among community organisations and allies who promote health equity for marginalised community members. The AIVL network advocates for and supports people who use drugs or drug treatments, specifically Medically Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence (MATOD) – buprenorphine and methadone.

Currently, 50,000 Australians rely on medications for opioid dependence. The PBS Bill 2021, which had its first reading in the Australian Parliament on 28 October, may be pushed through the Senate by end of 2021. Large pharmaceutical industry members were consulted. However, the AIVL national network was not.

AIVL’s member organisations represent the consumers of these medications, people who will be impacted by the proposed amendments. In principle, the AIVL network supports the intent of this Bill: to save taxpayers money and improve access to cost-effective medicines. However, transparency in process and consultation is essential, so those affected by the changes can understand its impacts. AIVL and its member organisations want to know the list of medicines affected and what impact the proposed changes will have on the Australian market for products that many community members we represent rely on.

The new legislation focuses on how old a molecule used in a medicine is, rather than the novelty of a specific product. A novel development has been the use of older molecules delivered in slow-release ways and the choice this affords people is life-changing.

The AIVL network wants to ensure a continuity of medicine choice for people prescribed MATOD. We call upon the Australian Senate to urgently enable a broader community consultation to allow for examination of the Bill's impacts and recommend it be subject to public inquiry before being passed.

AIVL is the national organisation representing people who use/have used illicit drugs and is the peak body for the state and territory peer-based drug user organisations.

Jake Docker, CEO, AIVL – email

Want to know more?

Contact the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL).