The Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement will be a good deal for pharmacy and consumers, Health Minister Sussan Ley has told The Conversation’s Michelle Grattan.
Minister Ley told Grattan that she doesn’t want to see pharmacies in supermarkets and that a two-year review of remuneration and location rules may be part of the next Agreement.
When asked about the proposed $18.9 billion offer for the next Agreement – which Grattan said is “more like 16 billion as the swings and roundabouts are taken into account” – Ley said $18.9 billion was “in the ballpark”.
Ley said the negotiations with pharmacy were robust, but “definitely not unfriendly”.
“The Pharmacy Guild is doing the best for their members, I’m doing the best for taxpayers and affordability for consumers,” Ley said.
“Part of the national medicines policy is a viable community pharmacy sector and can I say as a rural and regional member of parliament I’m absolutely committed to that and we want our pharmacies to be strong and we recognize the role they play.
“This negotiation as I said, I hope is about to conclude but it’s a good deal for pharmacy, it’s a good deal for consumers, it’s a good deal for the suppliers of medicines and it’s a good deal for government.”
She said that in order to be able to list leading-edge drugs, the Government needs to work with everyone across the supply chain.
When asked about whether Harper Review recommendations would be implemented, Ley told Grattan that it makes sense to have a two-year review of remuneration and location rules, and “the Pharmacy Guild is very welcoming of that”.
“They are happy to have this examined over the next couple of years in more details and that may well be part of the agreement that we finally do sign up to,” she says.
The Minister says she looks at a lot of requests for ministerial exemptions to the location rules, “so clearly they are not working that well”.
“I’ve said my personal view is that I don’t want to see pharmacy in supermarkets at the moment,” she told Grattan.
“I value the role that our community pharmacist do, I also know that competition is important.
“It’s important for the best deal for consumers and the discounted up to $1 co-payment option provides pharmacy with tools for competition and should, in the medium term, keep the audit office and the productivity commission and so on who are distinguished bodies who we believe have good things to say about economic structure and how to best to achieve the supports across the supply chain that everyone demands and again I think this is going to be a very good deal for everyone involved.”