Enhancing medicine scheduling decisions through economics

Impact: Public policy impacts, Economic impacts, Quality of life impacts

Description of impact

Australia currently spends 10% of its gross domestic product on healthcare, of which medicines account for 12%. Initially most medicines are available by prescription only, some may be ‘down-scheduled’ to being available over-the-counter (OTC). Decision makers currently focus on patient risk when making scheduling decisions. However, there are also benefits to the patient and the healthcare system from allowing a medicine to be available OTC, including improved patient health outcomes and reduced demand for healthcare. While the existing framework for making scheduling decisions may not be broken, it could be improved. A 2015 Federal Government review recommended that the framework be revised.

In 2016 researchers at the Macquarie University, led by Dr Bonny Parkinson, developed an economic evaluation framework that can be used by regulatory bodies to predict the impact of making a medicine more or less accessible. The application of the framework was demonstrated using two case studies: down-scheduling triptans and the oral contraceptive pill (OCP). Researchers from the University of Auckland and University of Technology Sydney assisted with the case studies.

Key Government and industry stakeholders were engaged through conference presentations and a roundtable held at Macquarie University, where the merits and challenges of implementing the framework were discussed. The OCP case study contributed to a shift in thought regarding GPs as gatekeepers versus easier access to contraception through its widespread media attention. Trials of OTC OCPs are now underway in Queensland, where it is expected to reduce unplanned pregnancies, and thus improve health outcomes.
Impact date20152019
Category of impactPublic policy impacts, Economic impacts, Quality of life impacts
Impact levelEngagement