Pharmacy prescribing for skin conditions afoot

3 minute read

Next month, the NSW pharmacy trial will expand to allow pharmacists to supply treatment for four skin conditions without a prescription.

On 12 July, the NSW Pharmacy Trial will expand to allow patients to receive treatment for a select few common skin conditions from their pharmacist, without a script from a doctor.

Under the expansion, patients with impetigo, shingles, mild to moderate eczema and mild plaque psoriasis can visit a participating pharmacy for treatment.

Patients will not pay for the consultation with the pharmacist – which will be covered by a government subsidy to the pharmacy – however, they will pay for the treatment.

The expansion follows the permanent adoption of the treatment of uncomplicated UTIs by pharmacists at the beginning of this month, after the completion of the 12-month trial earlier in the year.

The trial was, somewhat controversially, made permanent prior to the completion of a comprehensive evaluation of the trial outcomes, which is not expected until early next year.

The community pharmacy trial initially opened at 100 participating pharmacies in May last year and expanded almost ten-fold in September, when it also incorporated the resupply of the oral contraceptive pill.

Over 1200 pharmacies across the state have expressed interest in participating in the trial, with select ACT pharmacies also participating.

Recruitment of pharmacies to the skin conditions trial has already begun and is focusing on the pool of pharmacies who participated in the UTI trial and the oral contraceptive pill trial, which is still underway.

All pharmacists who plan to be involved must undergo additional targeted training.

NSW minister for health Ryan Park, pointed to GP inaccessibility as the impetus for the trial – rhetoric that has been repeated since the inauguration of the trial.

“We know how difficult it is to access a GP – there were fewer GPs in NSW in 2023 than there were in 2018 – that’s why we’re making it easier for people to gain access to simple treatments and the medications they need for non-complex conditions,” he said.

“We’re doing this by empowering pharmacists to consult and provide medications – we’ve done this for UTIs as well as the resupply of oral contraceptive pill and soon, this initiative will expand to certain minor skin conditions.”

President of the NSW branch of the Pharmacy Guild David Heffernan said the “success” of the UTI trial, which has not yet been evaluated, demonstrated the value of pharmacy access.

“This trial will mean more accessible everyday healthcare, taking pressure off hospital emergency departments and freeing up GPs to treat more complex conditions,” he said.

The trial is being led by the University of Newcastle, in partnership with the University of Technology Sydney, University of New England, Charles Sturt University, The George Institute for Global Health and the Hunter Medical Research Institute and other peak bodies.

Unlike Queensland’s community pharmacy trial, which also includes pharmacist supply of medication for impetigo, shingles, mild to moderate atopic dermatitis and acute exacerbations of mild plaque psoriasis, the NSW trial, including the new dermatological expansion, has been registered on the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry.

The trial is set to close 28 February 2025 or when the number of trial-sponsored consultations reaches the maximum quota.

More information about the trial and participating pharmacies will be available here, once the trial is afoot.

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