Hospital pharmacists welcome price disclosure recommendations

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The SHPA has welcomed the Grattan Institute report’s recommendations on price disclosure

The Institute’s conclusion that Australian Government policies have not gone far enough or fast enough to reduce the price of generic medicines no longer covered by patents should be welcomed and acted upon, says the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia.

The report, which updates savings estimates following similar reports released in 2015 and 2013, claims that Australians pay more than $500 million a year too much for prescription medicines.

Most industry stakeholders, including the Guild, PSA, GMBA and CSOs, have condemned the report.

“Drug prices in Australia are more than twice as high as in the UK and more than three times higher than in New Zealand… Australians on average pay five times the best international price for a group of seven commonly prescribed drugs,” says the Grattan Institute’s Professor Stephen Duckett, author of the report now available online.

Kristin Michaels, CEO of SHPA, says the recommendations of the report, including introducing international benchmarking to close the price gap for comparable generic medicines more quickly, could help ensure more Australians have access to affordable medicines.

“Eight per cent of Australians delayed getting, or did not get, their prescribed medication due to the cost over the past 12 months, which is 8%t too many – SHPA supports any measure that minimises the likelihood people will forego prescribed medical treatment,” she says.

Ms Michaels says community health and wellbeing could reap the benefits of subsequent government savings if resources were redirected to expand and improve personalised clinical pharmacy services.

“In addition to making medicine prices fairer, prescription medicine pricing reform could free up considerable funds to be spent on expanding community access to Home Medicines Reviews, which are proven to improve uptake and adherence to complex medicine regimens.

“Another hugely beneficial initiative, specifically recommended in the Grattan Institute’s report, is supporting more pharmacists to provide clinical services in General Practice, as a key pillar of patient-centred multidisciplinary care teams.”

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  1. pagophilus

    What I don’t welcome is misleading headlines. “SHPA welcomes” is not the same as “Hospital Pharmacists welcome”, ditto for PSA, Guild or any other body. They do not speak for the collective. They speak for their members at best, but even that is doubtful. They speak for their board/executive possibly and the author(s) of the statement. Not having a go at those organisations, but just clarifying things. NOBODY speaks for me. I did not give them the authority to do so. Quite often I disagree with what the various professional organisations pronounce in public.

  2. Jarrod McMaugh

    I think it’s naive to believe that any money saved on the PBS through price disclosed will be redirected into other pharmacy, or even health, programs. The money is redirected into whatever other policies the government needs to fund, which is their prerogative.

    I find the report itself really disappointing; it is so simplistic on the costings of medications – I was under the impression that an economist looks at far more than cost. There have already been medications that have been withdrawn from the PBS (for instance, canagliflozin), and a contraction in the number of generics available for many lower priced medications…. and the government had to increase the price on a raft of medications this year due to the risk of the supply of these medications becoming uneconomical. These are signs that the industry itself is already under price pressure. Dropping it further won’t improve outcomes; it will risk worsening supply issues.

    It should also be noted that price comparisons to the UK and NZ are not simple to make. The UK has roughly triple the population over a far smaller area, so the costs of distribution and market size are not comparable. In NZ, the prices are achieved by removing choice from patients… something that is at odds with the Australia Government’s National Medicines Policy.

    What is worse about this report is that they get the pricing issues so wrong (or oversimplified) , and then call for pharmacists to expand further into their scope of practice….. This is disappointing because a report that is so flawed then focuses on something that is so important, and it makes it easy for critics of pharmacist role development to make a straw-man argument with this report.

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