Industry needs a ‘switch task force’ to increase the down-scheduling of medicines and also the removal of restrictions on S3 advertising, as this will drive pharmacy growth, says ASMI president Mark Sargent speaking at APP 2015 today.
“There is a high level of acceptance of non-prescription medicines by consumers and significant pharmacy growth potential from increasingly health literate, time-poor consumers who prefer purchasing their medicines at a pharmacy rather than consulting their GP for minor conditions,” says Sargent.
“This is borne out by recent research, which reveals that non-prescription medicines are taken regularly by one-in-nine consumers, with 80% of adults and 40% of children using them monthly.”
But the Government’s “overly risk adverse” approach to its scheduling policy for low-risk over-the-counter medicines is stifling consumer access to medicines and putting Australia behind the rest of the world on switching.
Sargent says ASMI is pursuing switch reforms with other stakeholders to drive policy changes.
“Reforms proposed by ASMI include development of scheduling policy; implementation of a supporting regulatory framework, and streamlining of processes,” says Sargent.
“We also need to identify candidates for future switches through collaboration with consumers, pharmacists, GPs, industry and federal and state governments.
He says ASMI is in alignment with official pharmacy and supports the removal of restrictions on the advertising of S3 medicines and the need for a new model of consumer communication which emphasises the educative role of the pharmacist.
“The model involves three elements: Information about the disease or condition, branded product information, and the key element – emphasising the role of the pharmacist in determining whether the medicine is appropriate for a particular consumer and/or condition.”