The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has recommended the abortion drug RU486 be added to a government subsidy scheme.
The controversial abortion drug, RU486, is expected to become more widely available, following a reccomendation that it be subsidised by the Federal government.The Health Minister says she’ll consider the proposal of an expert committee.
If approved, it’s likely that the pill’s price will drop dramatically.
RU486 was ruled safe for importation to Australia last year.
Now, the government’s advisory committee says it should be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Womens' health advocate, Dr Leslie Cannold, welcomes the outcome of what she says is a fair process.
“That could make a huge difference to women in rural and regional areas who some of whom are having to travel hundreds and hundreds of k’s to gain access to a safe termination by surgical means.”
Dr Cannold says Australia needs to catch up with 50-countries where medical abortions are widely available,
But the Australian Christian Lobby is urging the Federal government not to go ahead with a taxpayer-funded subsidy for a drug which it says has questionable health impacts.
“It means that people who have a philosophical or conscientious objection to abortion which is a great many Australians are then being forced to pay for something which they believe is wrong.”
RU486 is not currently prescribed by many doctors and not widely available.
At the moment it costs over $300 but if subsidised by the government, it could be available for as little as $12.
The Australian Greens want the government to list it on the PBS quickly – to make it harder for a Coalition government to undo.
But the Opposition Leader who has previously opposed the drug says he wouldn’t necessarily prevent its listing, if he becomes Prime Minister.
“When I was the Health Minister we invariably took the advice of our professional advisers when it came to the safety and the efficacy of drugs,” said Tony Abbott.
The Health Minister says the recommendation is just the first step.
“Now we’ll go into a period of making sure of steady, good quality supply of the drug, that there is a cost-effective price for the drug,” says Tanya Plibersek.
She says she won’t rush the process but does expect a decision before the election.
Abortion pill to be added to PBS SBS News (video)