All bets are off, says review boss

Prof Stephen King

All bets are off for remuneration and regulation, review boss tells pharmacists

Community pharmacy has to ask confronting questions about how it operates, what it sells, what it is willing to do and how it positions itself to consumers, the federal governments pharmacy review chief says.

Appearing before a packed audience at APP2016, Professor Stephen King, chair of the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation panel promised a fair but comprehensive process to examine how the sector operates and is paid.

At an occasionally tense session he gave no definitive answers but said the panel was still gathering information and feedback on the industry.

While reiterating that the panel members had no preconceived ideas and were talking to a wide rang of pharmacists and other stakeholders, Professor King indicated that all aspects of pharmacy regulation and remuneration were potentially liable to change.

In particular, Professor King questioned what he saw as a non-transparent and confusing remuneration structure which was prone to cross-subsidisation, leaving government and public unsure “who is actually paying for what?”

“The current system is not sustainable, we hear often,” he said. “Is your model of being paid for you professional advice by selling other things really the right one for an allied health profession?”

Professor King said the current system turned patients into consumers and potentially confused the health care role of the profession.

Professor King said untying advice provision from dispensing was under consideration by the panel.

He also discussed location rules, saying early evidence they had gathered indicated they seemed to be working well and had reasonably rationalised the ratio of pharmacies to population.

The panel is due to release a discussion paper in April, before undertaking a national consultation process from June.

An interim report is due to be released in the second half of 2016, with a final report to be delivered to the government in March 2017.

More on this story tomorrow

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