Meds still not cheap enough: Guild

2 minute read

The powerful industry group said it “won’t rest” until the PBS co-payment is lowered to $19.

The Pharmacy Guild has quietly relaunched its “Affordable Medicines Now” campaign, claiming community pharmacy “won’t rest” until the PBS co-payment is lowered to $19.

The move followed new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which found an increase in the number of people who delayed buying prescription medicine due to cost, which went from 5.6% in 2021 to 7.6% in 2022.

The proportion of people who reported delaying prescriptions was largest among the population with the highest level of socio-economic disadvantage.

Lowering the co-payment – even though the government lowered it from $42.50 to $30 just last year – was on the Guild’s pre-budget wish list earlier this year as a more business-friendly alternative to 60-day dispensing.

When the government opted for extended dispensing over lowered PBS rebates, the Guild seemingly dropped the issue.

Its main advocacy focus pivoted to the potential for medicine shortages and business closures under 60-day dispensing, before striking an agreement with the government to suspend its campaigns in exchange for an early start on the eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

In the three months since striking that agreement, the Guild has been silent on all cheaper medicine initiatives.

That was until Tuesday this week, when it issued a press release looking at the new ABS data.

“A reduction in the general patient co-payment to $19 will have an immediate, direct, and permanent reduction in the Consumer Price Index, structurally lowering inflation,” Guild president Professor Trent Twomey said.

The Guild also claimed that, due to inflation, the maximum $30 PBS co-payment will be rising to $31.60 in the new year.

Nowhere in the release did it mention 60-day dispensing, which kicked off in September of this year and allows patients to pay the same dispensing fee for a double-quantity of medicines.

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