Funding confusion


Senate committee pharmacy grants claims were confused, PSA president clarifies 

Both questions from Senators and responses from Department of Health officials at a recent Senate Estimates Committee meeting were misinformed, the PSA says.

Claims that $5 million grants were for professional standards to be updated were incorrect, and this funding actually related to Aboriginal Health projects, the organisation said.

At last week’s Senate Community Affairs Estimates Committee meeting Senator Stirling Griff (Nick Xenophon Team, SA) asked Department of Health staff about a 2016-17 financial year payment to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia of $829,906, “as part of a contract, to update its professional practice standards and code of ethics”.

He was initially informed by Health department staffers that the funding was for updating standards and advice around biosimilars. 

Senator Griff then questioned another payment of almost $5 million given to the Pharmaceutical Society for guidelines for new and expanded pharmacy programs, and was told it was for a “different project” and the PSA contract for the revision of the professional standards is “around ongoing support for pharmacies for new and amended pharmacy programs” linked to the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

However, speaking to AJP, Dr Shane Jackson, PSA national president said the responses appear to have mixed up a number of different funding arrangements.

In fact the $5 million funding was for Aboriginal health-related projects, he said. 

“To clarify the Parliamentary Estimates reference about the $5 million allocated to PSA, this separate funding was for a new trial awarded under the Pharmacy Trial Program (PTP) to PSA – with NACCHO and James Cook University as subcontractors – to integrate pharmacists into Aboriginal Health Services.

“This was announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt last July at PSA17,” Dr Jackson said.

He also emphasised the importance of the actual biosimilar guidelines project (which was the initial project referred to).

“PSA was also engaged to update the dispensing practice guidelines in relation to the effect of biosimilar medications and the significant impact these medications are likely to have in practice. For all these support tools, PSA successfully engaged with other pharmacy organisations.

“Given the significant changes to the Community Pharmacy Agreement, and the increasing use of biosimilars, it was important that these key documents governing professional practice were updated to coincide with the changes in policy and activities of the Government,” he said.

“From PSA’s and a community pharmacy perspective, it’s common practice for PSA and other pharmacy organisations to be engaged to assist in the implementation of programs that relate to pharmacist practice. This is vital to ensure the views of the profession are heard and expertise is utilised in the delivery of the programs.”

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