Investment key after decline in funding: wholesalers

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Wholesalers have welcomed the increased funding and floor price introduced in the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement

The National Pharmaceutical Services Association, which represents the wholesalers, said the 7CPA will provide “ongoing certainty” for the health infrastructure and medicine supply chain.

It welcomed the commitment of an additional $92 million in funding through the Community Service Obligation and the introduction of a floor price to support medicine supply through the wholesaler network.

“The investment is necessary to help offset years of funding erosion and ongoing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) reform and cost increases,” the NPSA said.

NPSA Chairman Mark Hooper said, “We are pleased to have reached agreement with government on funding to support Australians with timely and equitable access to medicines”.

“After a decade of declining funding due to the ongoing impact of PBS reform, it has never been more important to invest in the logistics network that is relied upon to deliver medicines to all parts of the country.

“We are very proud of our role in the health system, particularly in recent months as we have overcome the dual challenges of the New Year bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions which placed extraordinary and sustained pressure on our systems.

“Our distribution centre network is on the Attorney-General’s critical national infrastructure list for good reason.

“Implicit in this new agreement is recognition of the capability and value that the wholesalers provide in supporting government, Australia’s PBS, medicine manufacturers and community pharmacy. New government funding will allow investment with confidence in things such as distribution centre infrastructure, automation, technology solutions and jobs.

“We are very grateful for the extensive work and careful consideration provided by the Minister for Health Greg Hunt, his advisors and Department during discussions leading to this agreement.

“The NPSA also acknowledges the important work of community pharmacy, which has been recognised in the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreeemnt (7CPA) signed on 12 June.

“Ultimately, it was the collaboration between Government, manufacturers, wholesalers and community pharmacy that enabled critical services to be delivered to the community during the bushfire crisis and COVID-19 pandemic and these new agreements recognise this work,” Mr Hooper said.

Symbion CEO Brett Barons also underlined the importance of the supply chain during 2020’s challenges.

“The recent devastating bushfires and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the critical role we play in ensuring Australians can continue to access critical medicines, particularly in rural areas, even under the most extraordinary and difficult circumstances,” he said.

“Throughout the negotiations, Symbion maintained its position that ongoing wholesale remuneration was required to help offset the impact of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme price disclosure reforms and increased costs.”

API’s CEO and Managing Director Richard Vincent said the funding will underpin critical national infrastructure and ensure equality of access to vital medicines for all Australians, and congratulated everyone involved in the negotiations.

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