Pharmacy activist group calls rally (Updated)

3 minute read

Double dispensing will have already begun, but a-rallying they will go …

Sixty-day dispensing will be in action from the end of this week, but that has not stopped a nascent pharmacy group from organising a protest rally in Capital Hill for Monday.

WEDNESDAY AM UPDATE: A source has pointed out to us that a CAPS group existed as far back as the 80s, and was in fact elements of the Pharmacy Guild in disguise: according to an account in the authorised history of the Guild, “CAPS was none other than the Sydney zones of the Guild and they were joined by [Wollongong and Newcastle]. People try to make out that CAPS was a foreign body but [it wasn’t].” Whether this is the same continuously existing but quiescent group with a Facebook page created on 1 August, or a very recent resurrection of it, or a new entity with the same name, we’re trying to find out.

PM UPDATE: We’re told: “CAPS actually formed in the 80s and have come together over the years to speak up about and against pharmacy matters that affect the community in which they practice. They have generally disbanded once the fight is won.A kind of Once and Future advocacy group for pharmacists.

It’s organised by the NSW-based Community and Pharmacy Support Group (CAPS), which held a march in Sydney earlier this month in an attempt to highlight the potential threat that double dispensing poses to community pharmacy.

The stated aim of the Canberra protest is convincing the government to roll back 60-day dispensing in favour of continued industry consultation.

A spokesman for the group told The Medical Republic that it hoped for a turnout of about 5000 people.

Deputy Liberal Party leader Sussan Ley attended the Sydney demonstration, along with what the independent group estimated was around 2000 pharmacists, interns, dispensary techs and pharmacy assistants.

CAPS itself is a new player in the crowded pharmacy advocacy sector and does not appear to be affiliated with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia or Professional Pharmacists Australia.

Its Facebook page sprung into being on 1 August, just weeks prior to its first event on August 17.

Last week, CAPS volunteer Emil Demyane reportedly started urging individual pharmacists to “chip in” $500 apiece to bankroll “phase three” of its campaign.

The donations target, a CAPS spokesman told TMR, is a “moving number”.

As reported in the Australian Journal of Pharmacy, two corporate groups have contributed $10,000 each and one individual pharmacist has donated $3000.

The money will go toward t-shirts, flyers, corflute signs, banners, A/V setup, camera operators and bus hire.

So far, the Facebook event for the Canberra protest lists just 12 people as attending, although the group is understood to have a more substantial following on WhatsApp.

CAPS has dubbed the entire campaign “#TheTruthCampaign”, apparently in response to Health Minister Mark Butler’s assertion that the Pharmacy Guild’s warnings of increased pharmacy services costs amounted to nothing but a scare campaign.

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