The removal of “antiquated” pharmacy ownership and location rules have been supported by three national health groups, who have called for the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) to be extended for two years and for a further acceleration of price disclosure.
The Competition Policy Review’s call for removal of the current pharmacy ownership and location rules provide impetus for a substantial overhaul of the Community Pharmacy Agreement, say the Consumers Health Forum, Cancer Voices Australia and the Chronic Illness Alliance, to ensure health needs get first priority.
Removing the restrictions would be in the long-term interest of consumers, they say.
“We welcome the steps made by the Health Minister to consult with Consumers Health Forum and other interested organisations in developing a new Community Pharmacy Agreement,” the three groups say in a statement.
“However we urge the Government to take a further necessary step and extend the term of the current agreement until 30 June 2017.
“This would give two years for transition arrangements to allow inclusive, transparent and accountable monitoring of the current agreement and thorough consultation on the development of the next agreement.
“The next pharmacy agreement needs to be refashioned more in the interests of patients rather than in the predominant interests of pharmacy owners and Pharmacy Guild, as at present.
“We need to know if we are getting value for the public’s expenditure – $15.4 billion in the past five years – a very large payment to retail businesses.”
The groups say that significant improvements are more likely were the next Agreement to be consumer-focused, such as further changes to generic prices, the removal of the “anti-competitive” ownership and location rules and more support for HMR programs.
They say a two-year extension of the 5CPA would allow the Government to conduct a review into the findings of the Australian National Audit Office report into the current agreement.
The groups also called for a further acceleration of price disclosure measures, “to ensure Australian drug prices align with the market price of medicines”.