Guild in ‘backroom deals’, says Greens leader


Senator Richard Di Natale has expressed concern about the way Community Pharmacy Agreements are negotiated

During the recent GP18 conference, immediate past chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care and frequent critic of the pharmacy sector Dr Evan Ackermann asked the Greens leader whether he felt the Pharmacy Guild exerted “undue influence,” reports newsGP.

Dr Di Natale, a former GP, said that this was the case, urging greater transparency in CPA negotiations.

“Some describe [the Pharmacy Guild] as the most powerful lobby group in Canberra,” he told delegates.

He said the Guild was powerful “because politicians give them that power, by conceding it to them”.

“Politicians don’t like picking fights with people in white coats,” he said in response to Dr Ackermann’s question.

Dr Di Natale said that when he first discovered how the negotiations are undertaken, he was shocked, calling them “backroom deals” which are “negotiated on the back of an envelope”.

“You wouldn’t allow that anywhere else,” he said, adding that the Greens intend to require the Agreements to be open to public scrutiny.

Dr Ackermann welcomed the comments, reports newsGP.

“He had the guts to come out and say this at last,” he said. “These agreements are all done behind closed doors.”

He said that the existing system has not led to efficient delivery of PBS medicines, and that “a lot of money” is going to “big business” in pharmacy: pharmacy owners.

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