The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has welcomed the signing of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, which underpins the timely and equitable provision of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines for all Australians over the next five years.
Commencing on 1 July 2015, the Agreement recognises community pharmacy as an integral part of the Australian health care system. The Agreement enables Australia’s 5,450 community pharmacies and their staff to continue meeting the health care needs of their patients.
The Agreement encompasses pharmacy remuneration for dispensing PBS and RPBS subsidised medicines; wholesaler remuneration including the Community Service Obligation; the Pharmacy Location Rules; and Professional Programs and Services.
“At all times in negotiating this Agreement with the Commonwealth, the Guild’s goal has been to achieve the certainty and security that community pharmacies need to continue delivering quality health care for patients, dispensing PBS medicines, providing professional services, and employing staff,” says Guild National President George Tambassis.
As the Agreement states, the Guild and the Commonwealth have a common interest in promoting the sustainability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the PBS, as well as in the viability of an effective community pharmacy sector.
Key features of the Agreement include:
- A new Administration, Handling and Infrastructure (AHI) Fee, which will mean pharmacies will be less susceptible to the ongoing impact of price disclosure. Dispensing remuneration will be indexed to Consumer Price Index.
- Nearly double the previous Agreement investment in community pharmacy programs and services.
- Five years of certainty for community pharmacies in relation to dispensary remuneration and Location Rules. The Government has committed to legislating to extend the Location Rules until mid-2020, with an independent review to be conducted during the Agreement to inform future arrangements.
The Agreement is contingent on the passage of legislation to implement the Government’s wider PBS package, which the Guild supports – with the exception of the discounted co-payment which is a matter for Government.
“The new Administration, Handling & Infrastructure Fee (AHI) is a structural reform which will replace mark up and substantially delink dispensing remuneration from the price of medicines, enabling the Government to continue its PBS reforms without jeopardising standards of patient care,” Tambassis says.
“The renewal of the Pharmacy Location Rules provides a significant ongoing benefit to Australian health care consumers, ensuring that community pharmacies are highly accessible and well-distributed throughout Australia,” he says.
The Government will maintain the Community Service Obligation, which is paid to pharmacy wholesalers to ensure that Australians have timely access to PBS medicines.
As part of the Agreement, the Government has committed up to $1.26 billion to evidence-based, patient focused professional programs and services.
The says it looks forward to working closely with stakeholders, particularly the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, to deliver professional programs that benefit patients.
The Government has committed to $50 million over the Agreement for a Pharmacy Trial Program to trial new and expanded community pharmacy programs which seek to improve clinical outcomes for consumers and extend the role of pharmacists in the delivery of healthcare services through community pharmacy.
A particular focus of the new, continuing and expanded community pharmacy programs will be those that benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and people living in rural and remote areas.
As part of the Agreement, community pharmacy has been recognised for its role in supplying diabetes products for the National Diabetes Support Scheme which had previously been one of the unremunerated services provided by community pharmacies.
From July 2016, the NDSS will be redirected through the pharmacy wholesaler distribution network and community pharmacies with remuneration for both groups.
On behalf of the Guild, I thank Minister Ley and her team for progressing the negotiations and reaching this historic Agreement in the interests of patients,” says Tambassis.
A copy of the Agreement and further information is available at www.guild.org.au