Readers are invited to write in with their questions about decisions of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). Australian Prescriber publishes selected questions from readers, together with answers from the PBAC. Questions may address issues such as regulatory decisions, pharmaceutical benefits listings and withdrawals.

This exclusive arrangement helps Australian Prescriber readers understand how the contents of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS, see are determined.

Letters and responses are reviewed by the Editorial Executive Committee and may be edited before publication. It may not be possible to reply to all individual questions.

Your question to the PBAC

Sir, - Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) is a proven, safe and cost-effective treatment for hypertriglyceridaemia. It is recommended as a suitable option to modify cardiovascular risk by most authorities on lipid management.

Why is there no PBS listing for this safe, cost-effective and natural alternative?

Paul O'Brien
General Practitioner
Byron Bay, N.S.W.

PBAC response

In 1991, at the Consensus Conference on the Management of Hyperlipidaemia, which was jointly sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), the National Heart Foundation and the National Health and Medical Research Council, the use of fish oil supplements was endorsed as a possible alternative to treat predominant hypertriglyceridaemia. However, to date, the PBAC has not received any company applications for the listing of fish oil preparations and, under these circumstances, is not in a position to recommend that they be listed as pharmaceutical benefits.

I can only suggest that you contact the manufacturers of fish oil preparations and encourage them to submit applications for listing to the PBAC.