‘Hold your head high.’

Pharmacy bashing season has begun, says NSW Guild president, but he encourages pharmacists to stand tall in the face of ‘malicious journalism’

Community pharmacy agreement talks have set off a slew of negative articles about community pharmacy in the media, says Pharmacy Guild NSW branch president David Heffernan.

“Negotiations between the Guild and the Federal Department of Health have begun and thus so too has fired the starting gun for pharmacy bashing season,” Mr Heffernan writes in his latest ‘President’s Desk’ bulletin.

“The $19 billion community pharmacy agreement attracts a lot of opportunists, often with little regard or knowledge of the important role of community pharmacy, who seek to belittle and diminish to profession.”

Just this week News Corp reporter Sue Dunlevy published an article entitled “Free prescriptions blocked by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia”, where she wrote that pharmacists are allowed “monopoly control” over prescription medicine sales through the CPAs.

A few days earlier she wrote an article entitled “How a powerful lobby group is pushing up PBS medicine prices”—again referring to the Pharmacy Guild and the CPA negotiations.

The AMA and RACGP have also spoken out in mainstream media against pharmacy regulation and broadened scope of practice.

“Confected narratives fuelled by malicious journalism will be forthcoming in the coming months as other interested parties seek to publicly legitimise their interest in the CPA negotiations,” says Mr Heffernan.

“My message to not only Guild members but to all pharmacists, and those in the community pharmacy family, is to hold your head high and continue the good work that you do, regardless of the dissenting media to come.”

He argues that the Guild is not “the most powerful lobby group” but rather an industry representative organisation, and is not listed on the register of lobbyists.

However Ms Dunlevy notes that the Pharmacy Guild has donated almost $1 million to political parties in the past five years, including $139,542 to Labor, $43,279 to the Liberal Party and $37,620 to the National Party in 2017-18.

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