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Q&A: North Carlton pharmacist David Nolte has enquired why there are no pharmacists on Ice taskforces; David Quilty has agreed this would be useful and pharmacy continues to work with stakeholders on the issue.

Bourke pharmacist Peter Crothers asked about cash flow issues regarding new expensive drugs; Quilty says the Guild is working through these issues and that it is also examining GST issues.

Friendlies High Wycombe pharmacist Noel enquired as to the status of pharmacy trial programs and Tambassis says three are about to commence which are “dear to the Minister’s heart” – diabetes, medicines adherence, and ATSI health. He says it’s taken too long and a factor has been the 5CPA audit.


George Tambassis says the $1 discount unfairly targets the most chronically ill patients and says most are ejecting the opportunity because they want to get to their Safety Net on time.

He he cited the Cadence data that said the savings measure won’t be attained by the Government “and that’s not a good thing when the Government hasn’t done their homework”.

He also cites two examples of medicines where the Guild is asking the PBAC to re-examine their status following the January de listings: Panadol Osteo and liquid paracetamol. The Guild had accepted the delistings on the proviso that patients would not be financially disadvantaged, and in these two cases they clearly are, he says.

He says now the 6CPA is in place key areas of focus for the Guild include the Pharmacy Business Transformation Program and MedsASSIST, which he says will help pharmacists identify the “poor souls” addicted to these medicines. The Guild is “just doing it” rather than waiting for regulators to intervene, he says, and urged all pharmacies to get involved. The Community Pharmacy to General Practice e-health collaboration is also a key focus and up and running.


Wes Cook from MA says to move forward we have to work together and be optimistic about what can be achieved.

Despite work to make the PBS sustainable, which it is, the ongoing discussion focuses on cost rather than value, he says.


Allan Tillack from GMBA says a disturbing trend has been the number of PBS delistings. He says the National Medicines Policy is at risk from aggressive pricing policies.

Low medicines prices, increased delistings and supply issues mean less choice, higher prices and poor health outcomes, he says, citing the “poignant” example of amoxicillin, which is supplied for less than $2.

“Medicines pricing in Australia is at the end game,” he says. Government must move to secure the generics sector and ensure supply.

He says the discussion on bios imitate has to date not been entirely constructive, with undeserved mistrust aimed at pharmacy, which can play a key role in their supply and uptake.


Mark Hooper from NPSA and Sigma says a key issue is the “pincer movement” whereby more low cost drugs erode wholesale margins, while high cost drugs such as some of the new Hepatitis C drugs tend to bypass pharmacy.

6CPA is a $400 million reduction for wholesalers, he says.

“The practical impact is that a lot of that falls back on pharmacy,” he says. Discounts will run out over the next 12 to 18 months and then there may need to be charges for some services.


ASMI’s Mark Sargeant says Australia’s lagging behind in several ways and missing out on opportunities.

He says we need to look at global counterparts on what’s working. Australia has double the GP visits per capita compared to NZ – countries like the UK and New Zealand are leading the way on Minor Ailments Schemes.

He says ASMI is continuing to promote alternatives to codeine up scheduling and to promote S3 advertising, saying the Sansom Review’s recommendations were disappointing.

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