CHF comes out fighting on double dispensing

4 minute read

A new website and an open letter to politicians refute Pharmacy Guild lobbying.

The Consumers Health Foundation has taken the gloves off in the 60-day dispensing information wars with a new website designed to help GPs and their patients understand the policy.

The website — Easy consumer guide to proposed 60-day scripts for many medicines – includes fact sheets offering an overview of the changes coming in on 1 September, FAQs on medicine supply, the PBS Safety Net implications and the impacts for community pharmacies.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation circulating that is concerning consumers unnecessarily, but the bottom line is that 60-day scripts are good for the health of Australians, as well as their hip pocket,” said CEO Elizabeth Deveny.

“Increasing the ability for an estimated 11 million consumers with chronic conditions to get a 60-day supply of their medicines, instead of a 30-day supply, effectively halves the cost of their medicines each time they visit the pharmacy.

“In addition to saving money, consumers will also save time and travel costs. This is especially important for consumers who live in rural and remote communities who often have to travel hundreds of kilometres to the nearest pharmacy.

“Having a greater supply of medication on hand should also lead to more people taking their medicines as prescribed and this has been proven to lead to better health outcomes. For all these reasons, what we are hearing loud and clear from Australian health consumers is that the move to 60-day scripts is a very welcome change.

“These resources provide answers to many of the questions that consumers have right now, and CHF will continue to add to the site as more details come to hand. It is our core business to engage and educate Australian health consumers on all aspects of health policy and we believe this site will help people understand the changes and how it will impact them,” she said.

The new website includes an open letter from supporting groups – including the RACGP, Asthma Australia, NACCHO, the AMA and the Lung Foundation Australia – to parliamentarians.

“The [60-day dispensing] measure will not contribute to medicine shortages,” the letter says.

“It has been reported that only three products eligible for 60-day scripts are currently listed in critical shortage. These include two strengths of the same tablet, used for treating hypertension, and another type of tablet for treating recurrent streptococcal infections – which is already unavailable.

“People are still going to take the same amount of medicine – all that is changing is how often it is dispensed. Claims of medicines shortages have been publicly refuted by PBAC and, from 1 July, medicine suppliers will be required to stockpile between four and six months of essential medicines. The change to dispensing will be introduced in phases, giving industry time to adjust,” it says.

“Pharmacy is in a strong position and this is a relatively small total change to business, including government reinvestment.

“The reduction in dispensing fees amounts to approximately 1.5% of total pharmacy revenue. We welcome the fact that the Government has chosen to reinvest every dollar of the $1.2b in Budget savings generated by this measure back into the pharmacy sector.

“We note also that the Government will also redirect $350m in funding for on-site pharmacists in Government-funded aged care homes to community pharmacy.

“A recent Westpac report found that total consumer spending in pharmacies had risen by 33.7% between July 2019 and January this year.

“The report made it clear that the pharmacies are changing their business models and looking to provide more services, a significant factor in their revenue growth. The reinvestment of savings is entirely consistent with the direction that pharmacy is moving, noting the Government will phase changes in as part of a transition process.

“Clearly, the Government has sought to balance the needs of pharmacies while also ensuring that people receive more affordable, accessible medicines.”

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×