News reports on aspirin pricing are misleading, says the Guild: some news reports of the ANAO audit of the Administration of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement have referred to the pricing of aspirin when dispensed as a PBS prescription medicine.
These reports are misleading and unfortunate, in that they completely ignore the professional service provided by a pharmacist in overseeing the quality use of a prescribed medicine, the Guild says.
The aspirin referred to is a specific strength indicated for the treatment of patients with known cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease, as an antiplatelet agent for prophylaxis against acute myocardial infarction, unstable angina, transient ischaemic attack and cerebrovascular accident (stroke).
While aspirin is available over-the-counter (smaller packets are unscheduled and available from a range of retailers, not just pharmacies), it is initiated on prescription for the above conditions, the Guild points out.
There are reasons for the caution in initiating patient onto this therapy as it is contraindicated in severe hepatic or renal disease or in people with bleeding disorders or GI ulcers.
There are significant interactions with some medicines, including other antithrombotics such as warfarin or antiplatelet drugs which the people with the above indications may be on.
When a pharmacist dispenses this medicine, they check for contraindications and interactions. They explain how to take it to minimise side-effects and maximise efficacy, the Guild says.
For their patients who regularly return to the pharmacy, they also monitor for any poor outcomes such as side-effects or other issues the patient may have.
For the reasons outlined above, there is much more to the dispensing of aspirin as a PBS prescription medicine than the price comparison highlighted by the media reports. Pharmacists are entitled to be paid for their professional expertise.
In relation to pricing, while the maximum price to a consumer is $13.63, competition in the market means the full allowable price is rarely charged. Furthermore, concessional patients would only pay the $6.10 co-payment, or $0 if they have reached the Safety Net.