Keeping up supply

Wholesalers win bipartisan support in election run-up

The National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA) has welcomed recent commitments by both major parties to the future of the pharmaceutical supply chain ahead of the upcoming Federal Election.

The NPSA, the peak body representing Australia’s full-line CSO wholesalers, recently received a letter from Health Minister Greg Hunt, which reaffirmed the Coalition’s support for the PBS and for the work of Australia’s pharmaceutical wholesalers in delivering timely, reliable and affordable access to medicines in collaboration with the broader PBS supply chain.

Minister Hunt also noted that, during his tenure, he has had productive discussions with the NPSA members around the ongoing sustainability of the supply chain, while acknowledging that PBS price disclosure legislation has created challenges for wholesalers.

It follows Shadow Health Minister Catherine King’s acknowledgement of wholesalers when discussing Community Pharmacy Agreement (CPA) negotiations during the recent Press Club health debate.

NPSA Chairman Mark Hooper said it is pleasing that both sides of politics have formally recognised the role that NPSA members play in ensuring that all Australians have timely and affordable access to medicines, no matter where they live.

“CSO wholesalers perform a critical but often invisible function in Australia’s healthcare system by connecting those who make life saving medicines with those who need them most,” he said.

“Through ongoing discussions with both parties, we have reached a mutual understanding of the importance of upholding a robust policy framework which protects patient access to medicines while also ensuring the ongoing viability of CSO wholesalers is maintained.

“The NPSA is still of the firm belief that the CSO is the best framework to do this; however, the economics of wholesaling have changed since the policy was first introduced and, as such, we must develop a collaborative future roadmap to ensure the ongoing viability of a system that works so well.”

According to independent analysis commissioned by the NPSA, which was acknowledged by Minister Hunt, CSO wholesalers currently deliver 20% more product than was originally envisaged under the CSO with minimal increases to funding, while 85% of products are now distributed at an economic loss.

“NPSA members have invested heavily in technology and infrastructure to keep pace with the changing market conditions and to support Australia’s world-class medicines sector,” Mr Hooper said.

“It is pleasing that both major parties have recognised these contributions and the commitment of wholesalers to continuing to uphold the standards of the CSO in the face of significant economic challenges.

“We look forward to further engagement with the Government post-election as we work toward redressing the margin structure in a manner that will have minimal impact on PBS outlays and ensure the continued viability of CSO wholesaling.”

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