A key piece of the federal blueprint for drug regulation, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), will come into force next month, with the Government aiming to have the program operational by July 2018.
The Government is also expected to make changes to the existing Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule, which will allow companies to produce cheaper generic versions of existing drugs that will be sold in the community.
The Federal Government has already announced changes to its own PBS program.
Under the previous system, generic drugs were only available to those who had been approved by the Food and Drugs Agency (FDA) for a certain period of time.
The current PBS rules have allowed generic versions to be sold without having to go through the approval process, but those who want to sell their own versions are not allowed to do so.
The PBS program is set to be overhauled, with pharmaceutical companies able to manufacture generic versions for their own patients.
While the rules were changed, the new rules will not apply to the PBS program itself.
That means generic versions can be sold at pharmacies and other pharmacies will no longer be able to refuse a request from a patient.
The changes will allow generic versions, however, to be made without being approved by regulators.
“PBS will remain an essential tool to address the challenges that our community faces, particularly in the current market environment,” Mr Turnbull said in a statement.
The government is also looking at extending the life of the existing PBS rules to allow pharmaceutical companies to sell generic versions without having them go through a approval process.
Currently, those who are seeking to make generic versions have to go to the FDA for approval.
The pharmaceutical industry is currently lobbying the Federal Government to extend the current PBS regulations, with several health experts urging the Government to make the changes in order to keep the program functioning.
The Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, has said the Government is currently consulting with industry to develop new ways of supporting the PBS and is “evaluating the implications of the proposed changes”.
“The Government will make a decision on whether to extend its existing PBS policy to support these products and to allow those products to continue to be available without having the FDA approve them,” Ms Hennessa said in the statement.
“The government has made it clear that it does not intend to introduce a new PBS policy and is reviewing the impact on the PBS system.”
Mr Turnbull’s announcement follows a series of other changes to federal drug policy that are set to come into effect next month.
First, the Government will allow pharmacists to dispense prescriptions in the presence of patients and will allow the Department of Health to review a pharmacist’s drug formulary for accuracy.
Second, it will allow doctors to prescribe a range of different medicines without a prescription.
And third, it is expected that doctors will be able prescribe certain drugs without a doctor’s prescription.
The federal government has also proposed a new program that will allow parents and other caregivers to be able give prescriptions to children.