Hunt: You won’t be replaced by vending machines


In a highly anticipated move, Health Minister Greg Hunt today announced the Federal Government has released its response to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation

At his APP2018 address, the Health Minister announced the release of the King Review and rejected the proposal for machine dispensing of pharmaceuticals – although he didn’t rule out the $1 discount.

Minister Hunt stated that in forming his response to the Review, his “fundamental principle was to be careful about the future of pharmacy, to make sure we are protecting the long term sustainability of the sector and not taking steps or risks that are unnecessary or undesirable.”

“The first and most important of the decisions is we will be accepting the recommendation to change the way that high-cost medicines are delivered under the PBS,” stated Minister Hunt.

“The cash flow implications for you are very great. We will be moving to a model that will … reduce costs of these payments and operations costs for pharmacists right around Australia.

“It means the 22% of pharmacies that are not participating in high cost programs will have the opportunity.”

The Pharmacy Review recommendation included that a cap should be placed on the amount that a community pharmacy contributes to the cost of any PBS medicine.

However the government won’t be implementing a cap just yet as this “poses a number of policy and implementation issues”, according to its response.

This “will be considered further by Government in consultation with the pharmaceutical supply chain”.

Another of the key points in the government response was the rejection of the recommendation that the Australian government should trial use of machine dispensing.

“We will not be accepting that recommendation. As we saw, there’s a very important role of technologies but it would not be the same coming to APP and looking out at a bank of servers,” Minister Hunt told APP2018 delegates.

“The nature of that face-to-face interaction is fundamental, that is an important long-term decision that this government has taken and will stick by. “

However the government put the recommendation to abolish the $1 discount on hold.

“We will not be making a decision on the dollar discount,” he stated.

“We made a commitment to the Guild that we would review it but it is a balance, I have a fundamental duty about patient cost but I will come back to that.”

Minister Hunt highlighted the importance of the review process, but acknowledged that it wasn’t the preferred avenue for pharmacists.

“It was a useful process. We’re releasing that today,” he told APP2018 delegates.

“The fundamental response is that my approach is to recognise that pharmacy in Australia makes an immense contribution to community health and to ensure we take a careful approach to your future.

“What we’re doing is progressing to a model that’s about increasing sustainability of pharmacy and not bringing in new threats and new challenges.”

More to come on the Government response to the King Review and APP2018 shortly

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