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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



Panadol Osteo, government cuts and tax avoidance

I take Panadol Osteo on my doctor’s advice for my osteo-arthritic knee. I buy it over the counter from my local chemist.

Until Friday patients could also buy it at a subsidised price if it was prescribed by a doctor. The Abbott/Turnbull government removed the subsidy for over the counter medications with effect from 1 January 2016. This means the subsidised price could increase, perhaps to the over the counter price.

Health Minister Susan Ley claims this is incorrect because competition with supermarkets will keep the prices lower. Yet as ABC Fact Check says:

‘Paracetamol prescriptions cost the government around $73 million a year on the PBS, but 85 per cent of that cost comes from prescriptions for people in chronic pain from osteoarthritis.

‘The high dose, slow release paracetamol formulation they are prescribed can’t be bought from a supermarket for $2.

‘Only around $2.3 million is for paracetamol formulations that could be bought from the supermarket for less than the patient pays for a prescription, and at no cost to the government.

‘Ms Ley is incorrect.’

There is something else in this too. According to The Mercury, the maker of Panadol Osteo, ‘Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Australia has advised pharmacies it will increase the wholesale price for Panadol Osteo from $4.28 to $6.31 for 96 caplets.’ This is a 50% increase in the wholesale price and if followed through on the retail price would see that increase from around $5 to $7.50.

The company linked the price increase to the changes in the PBS scheme. The two are unrelated and the Minister has referred the company to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for investigation as to whether they have been involved in misleading or deceptive conduct.

Obviously GlaxoSmithKline has seen an opportunity to increase its returns in what is  already a highly profitable industry Don’t imagine however that we as community will benefit indirectly through increased tax revenue from this profit gouging.

According to the Corporate Tax Transparency Report recently released by the Australian Tax Office, in 2012/13 GalxoSmithKline had sales of almost $1.5 billion in Australia. However its taxable income was only $57.9 million on which it paid tax of just under $12 million.

GlaxoSmithKline: A tax avoider and a price gouger using the Turnbull government’s attacks on people in chronic pain to further advantage itself at our expense.



Comment from Eric Smith
Time January 2, 2016 at 5:48 am

Buying generic was once considered an option but it still means supporting the same company in many cases. The profit margin for gsk if they make a generic would also be higher even at the lower price because of the lower overheads.

So either way they win.

Comment from Bill
Time January 2, 2016 at 12:15 pm

You should try using traditional Aboriginal medicine.

Comment from Fred
Time January 2, 2016 at 3:45 pm

So GalxoSmithKline had $1.45 billion in deductions. Are you opposed to deductions? Do you claim deductions yourself?

Comment from John
Time January 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm

No, I am not opposed to legitimate deductions in the course of business, such as 8-1 deductions. As my previous post linking to my recent Canberra Times article makes clear I am opposed to profit shifting and to special deductions and assessable income exemptions. And what explains the low rate of tax payable on the small taxable income? What credits? Unlike you I am waiting for GSK to explain in a little more detail how they got such a low taxable income on such high revenue in Australia. As I said in my Canberra Times article if business has nothing to hide they have nothing to fear from explaining to us what their deductions, exemptions and credits were. I note too you ignore the price gouging.

Here is the Canberra Times article link.

I do think the no tax or low tax big business pays puts a fee for operating in Australia, based for example on revenue from Australian sources, on the agenda. Ten percent of annual gross revenue, declining the higher the Effective Tax rate is (and becoming zero at an ETR of 30%)strikes me as appropriate.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 4, 2016 at 10:24 am

This sounds like another case of global profit shifting and income tax evasion. Off with their heads!

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 5, 2016 at 9:28 am

My doctor tried to get me to take Panadol Osteo. This is a slow release form of Panadol which has very cheap generic alternatives available from the supermarket.

The only real difference is that ordinary paracetamol needs to be taken 4 times a day and Panadol Osteo only 3 times a day. Prescribing it is a good way for doctors to increase their income and ramp up the Medicare bill.

However, I don’t find that paracetamol is very useful for treating arthritis and arthritis related conditions. A person is better off taking Fish Oil and/or Nurofen (generic also available) due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

Other alternatives now include Krill Oil, Calamari Oil, ginger, celery seed and curcurmin (turmeric), some of which can be tossed into your curry or stir fry. I think it is now impossible to buy celery seed as a bagged herb, as it is more lucrative when sold by supplement manufacturers.

It came as no surprise when doctors wanted Fish Oil to only be made available on prescription, as they will do nearly anything to increase their incomes and keep their surgeries full.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 5, 2016 at 9:34 am

Copied from Panadol Osteo site:

How does Panadol Osteo compare to Panadol 500mg?

Panadol Osteo and immediate release Panadol at recommended doses deliver clinically equivalent levels of paracetamol. Panadol Osteo is designed to maintain rather than increase plasma paracetamol concentrations compared to immediate release preparations.

The differences are:

Panadol Osteo provides more consistent levels of paracetamol due to the sustained release bi-layer (2 layers).A single dose of Panadol Osteo has longer lasting pain relief than a single dose of immediate release paracetamol.

Panadol Osteo has more convenient dosing – Panadol Osteo is dosed 3 times daily and immediate release paracetamol is dosed 4 times daily.


I believe this is largely a fundraising opportunity to sell exactly the same product for a much higher price.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 8, 2016 at 3:58 pm

After further thought, I think the government is wise to remove Panadol Osteo and other paracetamol preparations from the PBS, as ordinary forms are available cheaply at supermarkets and at a reasonable price from pharmacies. This would also give patients an opportunity to thumb their noses at profiteers, whether they are doctors or owners of pharmaceutical companies.

I think hormone replacement therapies should be added to the PBS in order to help preserve the bone strength of older people, as the current cost is exorbitant. This is more important than a packet of cheap headache tablets.

I also know a person who was treated for 48 weeks with pegulated interferon. He only managed to get access to this treatment because both of his parents were doctors. He acquired Hepatitis C from sharing needles.

These days he is just as irresponsible as he ever was, having unprotected sex with women he has never seen before in his life, even though he is over 45 and should know better.