Direct supply is already having a negative impact on patient health, writes Paul Jaffar
The issues that have been created by direct supply must be addressed by the Federal Government as a priority. On a weekly basis, more stories are emerging of patients being disadvantaged by recent decisions of two pharmaceutical companies to move to a direct supply model.
In my own area, a pharmacist shared with me a story where a vital medication had been ordered on the Friday, and the pharmacist advised that delivery would be made on the Tuesday. On the Wednesday, the medication had still not arrived.
This is particularly egregious given patients were advised of the initial delivery time, and therefore were not able to have the medication supplied when they needed it.
This particular story is not unique, but highlights the fundamental problem with the direct supply model – that it is impacting on the health and wellbeing of patients.
More and more pharmacists and patients are being left disappointed and frustrated by late deliveries and responses given to justify them, at times having to wait up to a week for a medications that would have been delivered in under a day by wholesalers.
With the possibility of more companies moving towards exclusive direct supply, it’s simply unreasonable to expect that this will be a sustainable model.
Additionally, community pharmacy small businesses are being disadvantaged by issues related to ordering processes, wholesaler trading terms and pricing.
The decision of these companies to move to this model is undermining the core purpose and principal of the Community Service Obligation, a vital piece of public health policy that has been tried, tested and worked so well for over a decade.
Action needs to be taken to ensure that companies cannot bypass the important safeguards of the CSO, leading to poorer health outcomes for consumers.
At a time when medication adherence rates are at low levels, estimated to be between 50 and 65%, do we really want to undermine the principal of timely and equitable supply of vital medications?
The health of patients of community pharmacies must be of paramount importance, and direct supply has the potential to continue to negatively impact community pharmacy small businesses, and most importantly the health of our patients.
Paul Jaffar is a pharmacy owner and Queensland Branch Committee Member at The Pharmacy Guild of Australia.