Greens leader ‘misinformed’ on pharmacy

Senator Richard di Natale at a previous Pharmacy Guild dinner
Senator Richard Di Natale at a previous Pharmacy Guild dinner.

A prominent pharmacist has written to her local Greens MP criticising the attack on the Pharmacy Guild by its leader and calling for discussion

Adele Tahan, proprietor of the Adore Pharmacy in Rozelle and branch committee member of the Pharmacy Guild’s NSW branch, has contacted NSW Member for Balmain Jamie Parker over Senator Richard Di Natale’s remarks at the recent GP18 conference.

During Senator Di Natale’s address, he was asked by immediate past chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care and frequent critic of the pharmacy sector Dr Evan Ackermann whether he thought the Guild exerted “undue influence”.

Senator Di Natale, a former GP, called for greater transparency in CPA negotiations and said that the negotiations were “backroom deals” which were “negotiated on the back of an envelope,” newsGP reported.

Ms Tahan called the remarks an “unfounded attack on the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and community pharmacy in general”.

She wrote to Mr Parker to ask him to facilitate a meeting with the Greens national leader and clarify the issues involved.

AJP reproduces her letter to Mr Parker below (edited for clarity).

“It appears to me that Senator Di Natale is misinformed by his team on critical issues and his presentation lacked depth and understanding of the sector.

“He starts by describing the Guild as a ‘powerful lobby group’. And I will say the Guild are powerful because of people like myself who are active within our communities and we maintain a good relationships with our local member such as yourself. That the way it should be in order for any local member to make the correct decisions when it comes to policies and regulations.

“He then refers to the CPA known as the (Community Pharmacy Agreement) as a ‘deal made behind closed doors’ insinuating an illegal or dishonest deal. Well, let me tell you that the 6CPA with the PBS is the only part of the health care sector’s spending which is sustainable. The PBS was 10 billion dollars 10 years ago and it remains $10 Billion 10 years later. Doing deals behind closed door is how all deals are done to protect any deals and to ensure a done deal.

“Dr Ackerman who is a past president of the RACGP refer to a ‘closeness between business group and politics;’ he must be referring to the RACGP and the Greens. As you know everything stems from the one self.

“He then refers to lots of money in the sector which not even close to the fund that has been directed to general practice and corporate general practice in addition to the conglomerates corporate general practice that are even listed on the ASX. I won’t name any but a simple Google search can reveal the identity of those corporations.

“The Pharmacy Guild of Australia represents over 80% of Community Pharmacy owners such as myself and they are the only entity that is responsible for negotiating on our behalf for over 30 years the CPA. It is also the only known entity that is recognised by government from all sectors of politics to ensure the proper delivery of services and products in an ethical manner to the consumer.

“The review of community pharmacy which is also known as the King Review has been reviewed by the government and Minister Hunt to the contrary of his comments. Finding and suggestions in the reviews are unfounded and incorrect as they aren’t based on evidence rather theories and concepts.

“Community Pharmacy sector has saved the tax payers billions of dollars. Evidence to the current costing of the PBS which remains constant through the past 10 years.

“I’m also wondering if community pharmacy wasn’t owned by registered pharmacists would Senator Di Natale attack the sector as he did. I think not. If the sector was deregulated and pharmacies owned by corporate/supermarket or doctors’ groups that would not have taken place.

“Senator Di Natale expects community pharmacy to deliver products and services with the same costing from the 1990, 30 years ago. He seems delusional when he seriously expects that. The rising cost of living and population increase via birth and immigration will never allow that to happen. Does he expect to pay the same price for a house the same price as almost 30 years ago? Of course no one in their right mind would expect that.

“Why would community pharmacy be expected to do so unless he wants doctors to charge the same as they did 30 years ago? My understanding is that general practice is burdened by the freeze on their income by the Federal government and he is trying to vent against community pharmacy. In reality doctors and pharmacist have great working relationships, nothing like he is claiming.

“He then suggests that medication should be delivered by robots omitting a very important aspect of the clinical interaction between a clinical trained professional pharmacist who are the drug experts and a machine. He clearly acknowledge our training and expertise. Is he is calling for our profession to be written off?

“I think we need an independent review into general practice to investigate the rising cost of running corporate conglomerate general practice.

“It’s no surprise that doctors are objecting to pharmacists delivering their full scope of practice, they are simply trying to undermine a crucial part of the health care system.

“GPs need to focus on their complex patients with multiple morbidities instead of preaching to another profession.  

“I would like your assistance to meet Senator Di Natale and discuss face to face those issues and potentially clarifying it.

“For your information a consumer visits their doctor 4 times a year comparing to visiting community pharmacy on average 14 times a year.

“Hope this has helped to shed some lights on critical issues and I look forward to working with you and the Greens to clarify the myth and create harmony.”

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  1. Paige

    Just because what he said sounded mean dosen’t mean it wasn’t true. Guild claims to represent 80% of pharmacy owners. Which lets not forget is less than 15% of all pharmacists practising in Australia (AHPRA and census data) – Yet still rejected widespread calls from its own member to investigate the ownership structure of CWH.

    How should a group with such questionable motives and who represent less than 15% of the profession be able to conduct actual back room deals? – Which Adele Tahan has not denied.

    • Willy the chemist

      Waaah, I think this comment is NOT correct, “still rejected widespread calls from its own members to investigate the ownership structure of CWH.”
      I think you’ll find this more of the respective boards & authorities’ responsibilities. And their duplicities in allowing the present situation.

      In Victoria you’d hear off the cuff comments like “their lawyers are bigger than ours” or ah…enough said

  2. Andrew

    CPA is negotiated in secret, funding allocations are also secret and not evidence-based, and members of the negotiation team are pharmacy owners who profit from CPA services therefore having a conflict of interest.

    The fact that CPA funding and clinical evidence are diverging is clue enough.

  3. Bryan Soh

    “It is also the only known entity that is recognised by government from all sectors of politics to ensure the proper delivery of services and products in an ethical manner to the consumer.” Hmmmm KPIs involving CPA activities which are largely fraudulent with no way of assessing health outcomes, very ethical indeed.

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