Anyone who even has an eye on their budget knows that the key to saving money is shopping.
But did you know that in Australia the bargain hunt can even extend to prescriptions?
Although Australia is ranked 11th most affordable places to buy common prescription drugs in the world, prices can be very different, with some people paying up to $ 10 more for a new prescription just because they changed pharmacy.
Gaps in healthcare like this and the ease of access to healthcare for all Australians, regardless of their location, has been the driving force behind the creation of an online prescription provider by the Dr Asher Freilich. Instant scripts.
Dr Freilich, who gave up his successful career as an investment banker to study medicine and become a doctor, said the first spark of the InstantScripts idea came while he was working in the mergers industry and acquisitions in the health sector.
âI have always been interested in how medical and healthcare solutions could be delivered to the public in a more efficient and cost effective manner,â he says.
But it was when he was working as a junior doctor and then general practitioner that he realized there was an urgent need for something to make healthcare more affordable for all Australians.
âI have noticed gaps in healthcare and blind spots in our current healthcare system, which often leave vulnerable Australians excluded and unable to receive quality care,â he explains.
âWe are running out of time and I have identified a strong need for short, focused healthcare interactions. For example, many people need access to prescription drugs but cannot access their GP. I wanted to provide Australians with efficient, affordable and above all accessible healthcare. “
Shake up drug prices
InstantScripts, which recently received more than $ 10 million in funding, currently fills approximately 350,000 prescriptions per year nationwide.
The online platform works by choosing drugs from categories such as high blood pressure, blood thinners, and cholesterol on the Instant Scripts app, then taking a short quiz.
The results are sent to a GP for review and, if successful, a prescription is emailed to a pharmacy of the patient’s choice at a cost of $ 15. An original script is sent later.
Dr Freilich started InstantScripts with his own funds and, he says, “really started the business”.
âIt was definitely a labor of love and it was difficult but satisfying to finance the business on my own at the start,â he says.
âWe recently received nearly $ 11 million in funding from a consortium of investors, which will allow us to broaden and develop our offering. “
The platform, which has a predominantly female customer base and most commonly distributes contraceptives, antidepressants (SSRIs) and Viagra, encountered resistance from the medical community when it launched, but that is changing, explains. Dr. Freilich.
âI think in many industries disruptors are often faced with skepticism and weariness, and we’ve certainly been faced with that by the community,â he explains.
âHowever, over time, general practitioners and healthcare professionals have come to realize that we are not here to replace the invaluable, hands-on service that the community provides. On the contrary, our service often reminds patients and clients to consult their general practitioner more regularly. “
Prescription Prices in Australia
Under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the federal government subsidizes the cost of drugs in Australia, so patients do not pay more than $ 40.30.
Even so, drug prices can vary significantly below this cap depending on where you live and which pharmacy you visit.
If you purchase additional high level coverage from a private Australian health fund, your policy will most likely include coverage for the cost of prescription drugs. Supplementary policies generally only cover prescription drugs that are not subsidized under PBS.
Dr Freilich says that âthere are many factors that impact prescription prices and points out that small pharmacies might not be able to afford to cut back on drugs in the same way that large chains do.
And when asked how InstantScripts manages to keep his prescriptions at $ 15 – a cost he describes as “very efficient and competitive” – ââhe replied that it was thanks to his relationships with pharmacies across the country. .
âRather than competing with pharmacies, we work more with them,â he explains.
âWe have partnered with more than 3,500 pharmacies across the country, which represents more than half of the pharmacies in Australia. However, we would like to see standardized prices across the board. “
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