First tranche of 60-day dispensing medications released

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Come hell or high water the DoHAC is intent on starting double dispensing as planned on 1 September.

In a sign that it will not be relenting to calls from the pharmacy sector to delay , the Health Department has released the first tranche of 92 medications to be available for 60-day dispensing from 1 September.

The list of medicines in stage one has been confirmed, with the legislative instrument to enable the policy change registered on the Federal Register of Legislation, ahead of being tabled in the Senate next month.

The announcement has been welcomed by the RACGP. Vice president Dr Bruce Willett told TMR he hoped it would be followed by a comprehensive community education campaign for patients.

This hadn’t been helped by the scare campaigns it would lead to a medicines shortage, he said.

“A lot of patients are really confused about this, and some of them were particularly scared initially about whether or not they’ll be able to get their medications,” Dr Willett said.

“But I think most of them can actually see now that it’s unlikely to affect the supply and so a lot of the fear around that has abated.”

This first stage includes 92 medicines for a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Gout
  • Heart failure
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ulcerative colitis.

The full list of medicines recommended for longer dispensing intervals will include more than 300 common medicines and will be implemented in three stages over 12 months, starting 1 September 2023.

The complete list of medications in the first tranche is available here. It includes anticoagulants such as apixaban, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, clopidogrel; statins such as atorvastatin and rosuvastatin; hypertension mediators such as candesartan, lisinopril, nebivolol, spironolactone and hydralazine; and heart failure medications such as furosemide.

“Every year, nearly a million Australians are forced to delay or go without a medicine that their doctor has told them is necessary for their health,” said Health Minister Mark Butler.

“The Government is delivering cheaper medicines through 60-day dispensing for more than 6 million Australians. This will halve the cost of medicines for millions of Australians, including pensioners, who are living with a chronic condition.

“The Government continues to work with all parts of the pharmacy sector on the implementation of this policy.

“Australian pharmacies already do much more than just dispense medicine and the Government is supporting our trusted pharmacists to play an even bigger role in the healthcare of Australians.”

Dr Willett told TMR the RACGP fully supported 60-day dispensing as a massive win for patients, many of whom could save up to $1000 a year on the cost of their prescription medicine.

“At the end of the day, this is just catching up with other countries and it is really long overdue to support patients,” he said.

He said pharmacists also stood to benefit from the initiative, with the government’s promise to reinvest cost-savings back into pharmacy programs such as medication reviews.

“I think the big winners out of it are actually patients but the second big winners I actually think are working pharmacists,” he said.

“These programs will actually open up more more employment positions for pharmacists.”

In response to Mr Butler’s announcement, the AMA referred TMR to a recent interview with the ABC’s Lorna Dunkley and AMA vice-president Dr Danielle McMullen.

“I think the most important thing to remember about these measures is that they will halve the cost of medicines for many Australians across the country, particularly people on low income and healthcare cards and pensioners who missed out on the last cut to medicines prices,” Dr McMullen said.

“So we do think it’s really important policy change to help people deal with the cost of their regular medicines, give them easier access to medicines and stay on their medication, because we all know people who’ve run out of their medicines don’t get back to the pharmacy or back for another script and then just fall off of their regular medicines, which obviously isn’t good for their health.

“So it is definitely sensible health policy, which is good for patients, and it’s now about time to make it work.”

Dr McMullen also addressed concerns that the changes would lead to shortages of some medications, said it had been “widely debunked, and we think it’s unfair on patients actually to still be holding this scare campaign”.

“I’ve had patients come into my office panicked because they’ve been told that they won’t be able to get their medicine next month because of this policy change. Now, that’s patently untrue,” she said.

“The policy doesn’t come in place for some months yet, and actually this doesn’t change how much medicine goes out the door. Patients will still be on the same amount of medication. It’s just a timing interval.

“There are some medication shortages in Australia at the moment, but that’s an entirely separate issue to the 60-day dispensing, and we think it’s unfair that patients are being made to be feel scared about their medicine supply when this change will have no impact in the longer term on those shortages.”


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