Pharmacy Guild claims new $3bn investment

3 minute read

The Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement is set to be signed, sealed and delivered by next week, but there are no clues yet as to what is actually in it.

The pharmacy sector can expect an investment to the tune of $3 billion as part of the Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement (8CPA), the contents of which are still unknown.

While the 8CPA itself is yet to be signed, the Government and the Pharmacy Guild have signed a pre-contractual Heads of Agreement document outlining the main measures which will be included.

Full details of those measures – including where the $3bn will be invested – will only be released after the 8CPA has been signed, but the Department of Health and Aged Care said it “builds on lessons learned from past agreements and reforms”.

“This agreement ensures Australians will continue to receive cheaper medicines thanks to the Albanese government, including guaranteeing our historic 60-day prescriptions reforms into the future,” said Health Minister Mark Butler.

“The government recognises the very important role played by community pharmacies, and the 8CPA will support them to play an even bigger role in the primary care sector.”

The 8CPA wasn’t originally scheduled to come into effect until July 2025, but the start date has been brought forward by 12 months in an effort to keep the Guild on side after the introduction of 60-day dispensing.

The additional $3bn is just a fraction of the value of the agreement. The funding for pharmacies under the 7CPA was worth $25 billion over its five-year life.

Speaking at the Australian Pharmacy Professionals Conference today, Pharmacy Guild president Professor Trent Twomey said there had been rapid developments in the agreement such that he had to rewrite his speech on Wednesday night.

In a tantalising moment he warned delegates against believing any rumours about what is included in the 8CPA.

“I assure you that any mischievous scuttlebutt you hear in the trade hall or on social media is wide of the mark and uninformed,” Professor Twomey said.

“But you do know our principles – our long-standing patent focussed positions.”

The Queensland pharmacist said that not only were the Guild’s principles met by the 8CPA, but its particulars were also met.

“Tension and conflict are necessary parts of the public policy debate in Australia’s robust democracy,” Professor Twomey said.

“Having resolved our differences, your Guild looks forward to working with the Commonwealth government to continue delivering world-class community healthcare to Australian patients.”

Neither Mr Butler nor any of the four assistant health ministers are scheduled to speak at the pharmacy conference.

Friday morning’s keynote address will instead be delivered by Opposition leader Peter Dutton.

Scope of practice talks feature prominently on the conference program, but it’s unclear whether there will be an update on the Queensland pharmacist prescribing trial which was meant to have kicked off two weeks ago.

The latest development in that space was the Australasian College of Pharmacy announcing a training course for pharmacy assistants in Queensland working at pilot locations.

The $99 course instructs pharmacy assistants on the process of collecting patient consent and the fee structure of the services offered through the pilot.

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