GP warns of ‘McPharmacy’ vaccination model

coke and fries

A frequent critic of profession says expanded pharmacist vaccination is just an opportunity for pharmacies to sell complementary medicines

Dr Evan Ackermann, GP and Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care, accused the Guild of threatening to silence those who comment against pharmacy activity.

He spoke to newsGP senior journalist Neelima Choahan and said that the recent Victorian announcement was a “symbolic gesture”.

Victoria’s Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, this week announced that accredited pharmacists would be able to deliver the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine, in addition to their existing ability to provide influenza and whooping cough vaccines.

The age for Victorians to access pharmacist vaccination will also be lowered from 18 to 16.

Dr Ackermann told Ms Choahan that expanded pharmacist vaccination in the state could have negative effects due to the retail nature of community pharmacy.

“As we have found with influenza vaccination, the retail pharmacy sector is using vaccination as a business opportunity to sell complementary therapies,” he said.

“Marketing of nonsense ‘immune-boosting’ complimentary therapies is commonly associated with influenza vaccinations at pharmacies. 
“This continued ‘coke-and-fries’ approach has ensured pharmacy vaccination becoming a marketing ploy, not a public health initiative.
“This ‘McPharmacy’ model being promoted, where vaccination is used to drive foot traffic and complementary medication sales, should not be supported by the Government.”

He said that existing high vaccination rates for MMR administered by GPs will mean pharmacist access will have no positive impact.

“The Victorian Government should have consulted GPs before taking the step. There is no clinical justification as to why this decision has been taken,” he told Ms Choahan.

“The Minister seems to be deliberately advertising pharmacy in preference to a patient seeing their local GP, a place where a patient record is kept and vaccination history compiled.

“Quite simply, a pharmacist would not know the lifelong vaccination history of a patient, and having a My Health Record would not help, either. For pharmacy, it would be a stab in the professional dark.
“We constantly hear calls from pharmacy for better collaboration with general practice, yet, in reality, they continually work to fragment GP systems that work well.”

Dr Ackermann also took aim at the Pharmacy Guild over a tweet by Victorian branch president Anthony Tassone.

Mr Tassone had tweeted a link to a Nine News story in which AMA president Dr Tony Bartone warned that expanded pharmacist vaccination would lead to “less than perfect outcomes” and fragmentation of care.

Mr Tassone later expressed disappointment at Dr Bartone’s remarks, calling them “infuriating”.

“If we’re genuine about patient centred care then that must be based on the individual needs and preferences of the very patients we are treating.

“A vaccine that is competently administered within a health professional’s scope of practice is equally effective regardless of who delivers it – and if that achieves an outcome of herd immunity then surely that’s a good thing for public health,” he told the AJP yesterday.

The controversy comes just after the release of new PSA research which showed 64% of Australians want pharmacists to be able to administer more vaccines.

Around a quarter of a million Australians had received flu vaccination directly from a pharmacist since April 2018 alone.

“That’s almost 100 flu vaccinations occurring every hour in pharmacies across the country,” PSA national president Dr Shane Jackson said at the time.

“Clearly, this represents a better protected and subsequently healthier Australia and is evidence enough that enhanced access to vaccination results in strong uptake.”

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  1. Jarrod McMaugh

    It seemed last week when Evan make a lot of noise about withdrawing from social media that the RACGP had finally gagged him…. Quite embarrassing for th “Chair of the standing committee on Quality” to regularly make unfounded claims.

    6 days later, he’s back at it, making up stories about pharmacy practice in what seems to be a fit of professional jealousy.

    Evan if you would like to know why the minister didn’t consult with GP groups over the decision to expand the vaccination laws for pharmacists in Victoria, look to your own behaviour.

  2. Mimimomo

    Mc Pharmay start from Melbourne, they charge $8.99 for a vaccination. Cheaper that a Mc donald meal. No wonder the Dr ae feeling the pinch. Is only rational they are protecting their proffession. I don’t blame Him. He is doing the right thing. Praise the Guild or PSA for advocating for more service but there are some group out there which would make it look CHEAP and this would make Dr look like a day light robber and not as a proffessional. I rather it stay as it is. Dr do what they normally do. Vaccination already look so cheap. If Pharmacist get prescribing right, who knows what will happen. Patient would go to pharmacy(Mc Pharmacy), may be $10 consultation and discounted medicine!! YaHoo!!

  3. Nicholas Logan

    “As we have found with influenza vaccination, the retail pharmacy sector is using vaccination as a business opportunity to sell complementary therapies,” he said with absolutely no evidence whatever.

    • Ex-Pharmacist

      C’mon Nick, we all know what Dr Ackermann is getting at. He has obviously been told by a patient what the local pharmacy tried to companion sell with the vaccination. We all know it.

  4. B Lee

    Vaccination does not provide the opportunity to up-sell complementary medicines, unless patients specifically ask. If they are not covered under schedule, but they do not want to wait until long and nearly-always late GP bookings, they prefer to come into pharmacy to get vaccinated. I don’t see what is wrong with this because it provided convenience and the same protection and health care for patients and reduced workload for GP. If GP is not happy about this, then only reason is because GP don’t get incentive for not seeing a patient for vaccination, who would otherwise end up go to GP and help them with pocket money.

    Most complaints for pharmacists trying to extend the roles are from GP and specialists I talked to weren’t even aware and didn’t really care. Actually, they were happy because doctors don’t have to work harder. What this implies is that GP is in fact, the one driven by commercial and profit model, rather than actual patient care. They claim to be “Highly trained professional with average of 14 years intensive training” then I am not sure what is going on with the ways GPs practice these days. Sometimes they ask when they were supposed to know more than us, making mistakes when prescribing (eg prescribing oxybutynin when a patient had glaucoma, prescribing opioid analgesics for migraine – which made it worse (and ended up prescribing triptans that helped patient straightaway) specialist crack the shXXs with GPs of lack of knowledge and incompetence), prescribing without actually examining and prescribing antibiotics when clearly not needed. Instead of only trying to criticizing pharmacists without actually knowing how GP practice, why don’t RACGP and GP organizations review their practices??

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