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April 23, 1997

Cost of Drugs in Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme

JAMA. 1997;277(16):1277. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540400027017

To the Editor.  —The article by Dr Peabody and colleagues1 on the Australian health care delivery system and its relevance to the United States offered much interesting information, but their statement that pharmaceutical costs per capita in Australia are 20% greater than in the United States may be misleading to those trying to gain an understanding of Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS). If accurate, this figure demonstrates more about lack of access to medicines in the United States than expense of drugs with the PBS.It has been suggested that prescription drug use rates are lower in the United States than Australia. This is primarily due to 2 factors: first, lack of prescription drug insurance coverage in the United States and, second, the higher prices that manufacturers charge in the United States compared with the rest of the industrialized world.Manufacturers' prices for the same prescription drug are generally