Australia’s pharmaceutical industry receives financial support from the government through medicine sales listed in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The PBS is an Australian Government initiative that provides subsidized prescription medicine to residents. Government expenditure on the supply of medicines under this scheme amounted to over 11.8 billion Australian dollars in that financial year. More than 5,000 clinically proven brands were covered by this scheme in 2019. In 2020, a new medicine (Verzenio) used to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancers was added to the PBS. Patients accessing the drug through the scheme will pay significantly less than without the subsidy.
In the retail space, TerryWhite Chemmart is one of Australia’s largest retail pharmacy chains with around 500 pharmacies located across the country. A recent survey showed that this chain ranked the highest in terms of customer satisfaction for chemists and pharmacies in the country. Other major companies included in the survey were Guardian Pharmacy, Chemist Warehouse, and Priceline Pharmacy. In Australia, most of the revenue for pharmacies were derived from prescription medicine sales, driven by the increase in PBS revenue. For discount pharmacies, however, most of their revenue was generated from general retail sales from products such as toiletries and cosmetics.
Venture capital investments in the biotech, pharmaceuticals, and the health sector in Australia has been on the rise, reaching 290 million Australian dollars in 2018 and accounting for almost 30 percent of these types of investments in the country. These investments were channeled to Australian businesses through venture capital limited partnerships (VCLPs), an initiative implemented by the Australian government. Foreign investment in biotechnology in the medical sector has recently gained attention from multinational pharmaceutical companies.
Australia’s ageing population has the potential to ensure stability and growth in this industry. The share of Australians with chronic illnesses is expected to drive the demand for pharmacy services and prescription products. The role of pharmacies may grow in coming years to a more prominent position in the community. For example, in 2018, pharmacies were permitted to administer influenza vaccinations; this may have influenced the fall in number of influenza cases and deaths compared to the previous year. The opportunity for pharmacies in the country to take on a preventative and chronic healthcare management role is potentially linked to e-health technology. Wearable tech that are related to health may facilitate these services, while electronic script exchange may lead to more efficient services.