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General practitioners’ prescribing of lipid-lowering medications for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, 2001–2013

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (Indigenous Australians) bear a disproportionate burden of disease in Australia and have a life expectancy 13 years shorter than that of other Australians.1,2 Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and it is also the single largest contributor to the gap in life expectancy between the two populations.3,4 The mortality rate associated with cardiovascular disease is 60% higher in Indigenous than in non-Indigenous populations; the prevalence of cardiovascular disease is 30% higher and that of its risk equivalent, diabetes, is three times greater among Indigenous Australians.36

Promoting access to prescription drugs and improving the management of chronic disease are key components of the national strategy for reducing health disparities in Australia. In 1999, the Australian Government eliminated out-of-pocket drug costs for Indigenous patients attending remote Aboriginal community-controlled health clinics.7 Two subsequent initiatives, in 2008 and 2010, reduced medication co-payments for Indigenous patients who attended non-remote Aboriginal community-controlled…