A look back at a reforming Agreement

A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild takes a look at the outcomes of the 6CPA

In a little under three weeks, the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement will expire, making it a good time to consider some of the aggregate outcomes from this Agreement between the Commonwealth and the Pharmacy Guild, signed in May 2015.

While precise outcomes may not be published until some months after the Agreement ends on June 30, it is possible to reach fairly solid estimates about the aggregate expenditure under the Agreement.

Overall, combining dispensing remuneration, professional pharmacy programs, NDSS funding, wholesaler mark-up and the Community Service Obligation funding for wholesalers, the Government investment in the 6CPA over five years reached $16.8 billion. 

This excludes remuneration received for below co-payment prescriptions where the Commonwealth does not contribute to the patient’s cost of the medicine being dispensed.

I know what you’re thinking – what about the headline figure of $18.9 billion that was put around at the time of the signing of the 6CPA in 2015?

Well, as we know only too well in the current economic environment, forecasts and estimates entail a bit of educated guesswork and fortune-telling, which explains their frequent inaccuracy despite best intentions.

Professional pharmacy programs look to have received $1.1 billion in funding over the five years, around $100 million below the forecast.

As the sun sets on the 6CPA, it should be remembered as a reforming Agreement, which provided patient benefit as well as new stability and certainty for 5,800 local community pharmacies.

The highly innovative and beneficial Administration, Handling and Infrastructure (AHI) fee put a floor under PBS prices to ensure that the price disclosure process did not undermine the viability of dispensing and threaten consumer access to medicines.

In the lifetime of the 6CPA, well over a billion prescriptions have been dispensed safely and effectively to Australian health care consumers, many at a generously subsidised price.

The 6CPA provided a significant boost – a doubling in fact – in professional pharmacy program funding, which has translated into direct patient benefit for half a decade.

It also laid the groundwork for the imminent Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement, which is once again being negotiated between the Commonwealth and the Pharmacy Guild with a mutual focus on patient benefit, support for the PBS, and the viability of the highly trusted and respected network of community pharmacies.

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