Chemist Warehouse has issued a statement saying it has saved Australian consumers a “whopping” $44 million
The group has launched a new advertisement, “PBS it all adds up,” highlighting the savings.
The discount giant is proud to offer all its patients the optional – and controversial – $1 copayment discount introduced in 2016 during the tenure of then Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, says director of the Chemist Warehouse Group Damien Gance.
The Pharmacy Guild has repeatedly stated its opposition to the optional discount and recently proposed it be replaced with a universal $1 drop in script prices.
“Since January 2016, Chemist Warehouse has saved their customers a massive $44 Million on their prescription medications by passing through the maximum legally permissible discount on all PBS medicine,” Chemist Warehouse said in the statement.
“Chemist Warehouse, unlike other pharmacy retailers, is proud to apply the full $1 allowable discount to the full PBS price on every eligible prescription in every store, every day.
“This means all pension, concession and veteran affairs card holders pay $5.50 instead of $6.50 while the general patients’ full co-payment price is now $39.30 instead of $40.30.
“This is in addition to the up to 50% off discounts applied to all other below co-payment general prescriptions and all private prescriptions which saves Australians millions more.”
The statement highlighted a recent survey of Victorian country residents conducted by Thread on behalf of Chemist Warehouse, which showed that more than 85% of participants were traveling over 50km for their prescriptions, with price a key driving factor for the trip.
The results of the survey of 325 people were widely reported in the mainstream media, including by News Limited reporter Sue Dunlevy – who has on a number of occasions written pieces critical of the pharmacy sector and the Guild in particular – and WIN News.
Guild national president George Tambassis called Ms Dunlevy’s article a “misleading shameless beat-up”, while Chemist Warehouse’s Mario Tascone spoke to the AJP and called for the relaxation of location rules to facilitate discount pharmacies to open in smaller towns.
Chemist Warehouse, meanwhile, says that high prices and constrained competition are forcing people to drive long distances to obtain their healthcare needs at affordable prices, and noted that the survey showed six in 10 of respondents had previously delayed buying medication for financial reasons.
“At Chemist Warehouse we strive to make healthcare more affordable for every Australian, everyday,” said Mr Gance.
“That’s why we will always apply the $1 discount to all PBS subsidised prescriptions. This is in addition to the up to 50% discount on all other prescriptions dispensed.
“Chemist Warehouse are proud to always provide Australians with the best prices on their health care and prescription needs.”
Chemist Warehouse’s new advertising campaign and television commercial, which discusses its stance on always offering the optional $1 discount and on its discounting more widely, will commence on Sunday June 23.