Joint call to recognise role of pharmacy beyond dispensing


Terry White shopfront

Terry White, Chemmart call on review to recognise role of pharmacists beyond dispensing

Terry White Chemists, Chemmart and Chemplus pharmacies have called on the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation to support the current funding system and recognise the role pharmacists play beyond dispensing.

In their combined submission to the review, the group – representing 500 community pharmacies across Australia – argues that the cross-subsidy inherent in the dispensing fee supports the timely and targeted delivery of a broad range of services that would cost more under the fee-for-service model.

“Dispensing medicines and providing meaningful pharmacy services is not ‘ordinary commerce’, and the current system needs to be enhanced – not destroyed,” says Anthony White, CEO of Terry White Group.

“It underpins patient-centric care provided by pharmacists to patients across Australia. It is the bedrock of a system that not only delivers great outcomes for patients but also great value to government.

“The role Australia’s network of accredited community pharmacies plays in providing health care services should be recognised and the roadblocks to broadening their health care role should be removed.”

The group’s submission includes case studies provided by pharmacists from across the group, demonstrating how their level of patient care goes well beyond the dispensary every day, as well as 20 key recommendations.

Among the recommendations is that current services are maintained and that new fees are introduced for evidence-based professional services that will deliver greater choice and value.

The submission points out that consumers would benefit from being able to access many new services in their local pharmacy if the current regulatory and legislative roadblocks were removed.

For example, a broad range of immunisation services are currently not available in pharmacies and there are some medicines that could be provided to consumers without a GP script if the rules were relaxed and appropriate pharmacy protocols developed.

The submission also argues that the Pharmacy Board of Australia should be empowered to more actively monitor compliance with their Guidelines for Proprietor Pharmacists to help address concerns that pharmacies could take advantage of the cross-subsidy and further lift standards of patient care.

“With the weight of 500 Terry White Chemists, Chemmart and Chemplus pharmacies behind this submission, the Review will hear a compelling message from a united group,” Anthony says.

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5 Comments

  1. Gavin Mingay
    29/09/2016

    Is that coming from a pharmacy group which sells benzo scripts to general patients for $6.00?? Doesn’t that encourage pharmacists just to be robots in the dispensary??

  2. Ron Batagol
    30/09/2016

    I agree with the concept of better recognition and remuneration for current and future professional clinically and evidence-based services.
    What concerns me, however, is that neither commercial pharmacy groups nor peak pharmacy organisations want to address the “elephant in the room”, which has been raised time and again, by everyone from consumer groups through to assorted health movers and shakers (including recently by the King reviewers)-namely, in the way I would express it, that pharmacies continue to sell assorted vitamins, and other complementary products with a hotch potch variety of other ingredients with at best, small studies with surrogate endpoints and large numbers of celebrities who know nothing about health fiercely promoting these products!
    Is it any wonder that others raise the issue of perceptions of objective professional trustworthiness of pharmacy recommendations in that context??
    Now, I fully understand the juxtaposition if commercial realities needed to survive and development of professional advisory services.
    Clearly, in my view, what is needed, is for key pharmacy groups to work in collaboration with health movers and shakers to plan a staged exit strategy from the “flogging off” of complementaries and the like, in sync with a gradual increase in funding allocation to pharmacy (eg. via methods of Health Fund and health provider recognition),for providing a wide range of improved clinical services aimed at better managing chronic diseases and in triaging and identifying the need for medical attention.
    Such a long-term plan would provide certainty to pharmacies participating in such advanced clinical programs.
    So, is anyone ready to “bite the bullet”?

    • Anthony Tassone
      30/09/2016

      Ron you raise a number of interesting points.

      I do not think there is any argument that pharmacists should reference evidence-based information for the products they supply.

      It is essential that such information and support are readily available to pharmacists. A great deal of onus rests with the regulatory system and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and they should:

      • impose stricter controls requiring evidence to relate to the whole product or the same active
      constituents with similar dosage regimen, dosage form and route of administration to the
      product/ingredient for which the claim is being made;

      • ensure that all information held on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) is
      available to the public and able to be scrutinised;

      • only allow the manufacturers (sponsors of the product) to use evidence related to other products as evidence for a new listing on the ARTG when therapeutic equivalence has been shown;

      • ensure evidence supporting the indication for use of a complementary medicine is publicly
      available at the time of listing;

      • impose a requirement for manufacturers to document and hold information regarding the source
      of active ingredients for each batch of product manufactured;

      • impose stricter controls requiring disclosure that the complementary product(s) has or has not
      been evaluated for efficacy by the Australian regulator (e.g. on the label and on the ARTG); and

      • undertake an ongoing auditing role to ensure all requirements are being met.

      It is a concern that ‘Listed’ complementary products do not require independent assessment of
      evidence to support therapeutic claims nor are they required to be evaluated for efficacy prior to listing on the ARTG.

      In saying all of that, the current indications/claims for complementary medicines listed on the register should be reviewed for compliance with the “Guidelines for Levels and Kinds of Evidence to Support Indication and Claims” developed by the Department of Health (Therapeutic Goods
      Administration) and amended as appropriate.

      All products with a therapeutic claim should be evaluated by the TGA and should be submitted for Aust R registration. Alternatively, a strengthened Aust L listing mechanism should be in place whereby every listing is reviewed by the TGA and that certain ingredients (e.g. calcium
      for bone strength) are quickly accepted, while other products would be given more scrutiny.

      Anthony Tassone
      President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Victoria Branch)

    • BJ
      30/09/2016

      The thing is Ron, that the major groups all, I imagine, receive significant funding from suppliers for stocking such products in their planograms and receiving heavy allocations of them. How will they then sustain the lost funding if owners receive the dollars for health services (which would be great) instead of being able to stock such products? Pharmacists then have little to no financial choice in the matter than to sell such products.

  3. Jarrod McMaugh
    30/09/2016

    “With the weight of 500 Terry White Chemists, Chemmart and Chemplus pharmacies behind this submission, the Review will hear a compelling message from a united group”

    The panelists specifically said that each submission is weighted the same as all others.

    in addition, if anyone submits the same submisison as another and just changes the name, this is treated as one submission.

    I haven’t read the submission, but I tend to agree with some of the points raised here.

    I would hope that any professional services being developed by the group (especially TW) are not subject to the same inappropriate pricing that they apply to their medications – discounting medications as a way of attracting price-conscious patients is not a great way to build customer trust and interest in professional services.

    Services aren’t about price (and this includes professional dispensing fees), they are about quality. The message being delivered by any business that “discounts” these is that they are not valued by the business, so they shouldn’t be valued by the patient.

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