Spotlight on new legislation

What does the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2019 mean for pharmacists? Stephanie McGrath investigates

Following on from my article in the AJP on 31 May 2019 the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2019 was reintroduced to Parliament and is now law.

What does this mean for pharmacists?

Introduction of Application Fees

As foreshadowed in 2019, applications made under section 90 of the National Health Act 1953 will attract a fee.

While paying a fee for an application for approval is not unusual (State and Territory Pharmacy Authorities charge fees), the introduction of a fee for under section 90 for approval for new pharmacies or relocation of existing pharmacies could help to uphold the integrity of the Location Rules and provide financial dissuasion from reckless applications to the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority.

Trustee or External Administrator may supply PBS

Where a trustee in bankruptcy or external administrator is appointed to a pharmacist in respect of a premises approved under section 90, the trustee or external administrator may be granted permission to supply pharmaceutical benefits at the approved premises upon application within 10 business days of the trustee or external administrator’s appointment.

The application will be granted if the trustee or external administrator submits an appropriate application and supporting information within the 10 business day time frame as required under the Act and:

  • at the time of the application, the pharmacy situated at the premises is operating at the premises; and
  • the pharmacy can continue operating after the grant of the permission; and
  • the premises are accessible by members of the public for the purpose of receiving pharmaceutical benefits at times that, in the opinion of the Secretary, are reasonable.

The effect of a successful application is:

  • the trustee or external administrator will be treated as the approved pharmacist under section 90 in relation to those approved premises on the terms and conditions upon which that approval was granted to the approved pharmacist. One of the effects of this change is that if the trustee or external administrator supplies a pharmaceutical benefit, the trustee or external administrator may be entitled to a payment under section 99 for the supply of the benefit; and
  • any supply of pharmaceutical benefits at or from the premises by a pharmacist, who is not an approved pharmacist, on or after the day the application for the permission was made and before the grant of that permission is to be treated as if it had been a supply of those pharmaceutical benefits by the trustee or external administrator; and
  • the rights conferred and obligations imposed on an approved pharmacist apply to the trustee or external administrator in its activities as such an approved pharmacist.

Such approval will be entitled to be held at the premises until the Secretary revokes such approval (if there are grounds for revocation) or until another approval under section 90 is granted for that premises.

Further information

If you require any specific information or assistance to protect your interests, please do not hesitate to contact the writer on 0488 00 24 24.

Stephanie McGrath is a Senior Legal Advisor practising in commercial law with a focus on health, business and property across Australia.

Stephanie’s significant pharmacy experience includes buying and selling interests in pharmacies Australia-wide, advising clients in relation to compliance with the requirements of different State and Territory Pharmacy Regulatory Bodies, applications to Medicare, applications and objections under the Pharmacy Location Rules and Ministerial Discretional Applications, partnership disputes and much more.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any content of this article.

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