Drug companies target overseas growth

AN AGEING, wealthy population and government subsidies: you would think the Australian pharmaceutical industry would be grinning.

But although the country's listed pharmaceutical wholesalers, API and Sigma, had a great 2012 - up 81 per cent and 36 per cent respectively - hundreds of job losses were confirmed in the final months of the year from drug companies Pfizer Australia, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and MSD Australia.

The cuts came as the federal government sought to reduce soaring health costs and global blockbuster drugs, such as cholesterol treatments, came off patent to face tougher competition from generic manufacturers.

Brendan Shaw, chief executive of industry body Medicines Australia, recently noted that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which subsidises Australians' cost of medicines, had soared from a $173 million annual cost to the government to $9 billion.

But since its inception in 1972, patient contributions to the PBS had remained at about 0.1 per cent of gross domestic product, he said in a speech last year.

Read more at Brisbanetimes.com.au
 


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