Long-awaited support

The Pharmacy Guild has received a letter of support from the PM and Health Minister, with less than a week to go until the election

After receiving promises from Labor in late April, the Pharmacy Guild has finally received a letter of support from the Coalition.

The letter from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt includes a reminder of the measures the government has taken to support community pharmacy during this term, and through the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

Guild president George Tambassis welcomed the expression of support for the current pharmacy ownership model, and acknowledged the government’s removal of the sunset clause in the Location Rules, which had “delivered added certainty for pharmacy business owners”.

Without referring to specific measures, the letter says a re-elected Morrison Government will carefully consider proposals that could improve the affordability of medicines “and will undertake extensive consultation on such proposals.”

“This assurance is intended to address our concerns about the lack of consultation when the government proposed a dual listing measure on the eve of the Budget,” says Mr Tambassis.

On the optional $1 discount, the government again committed to “careful consideration” of its ongoing operation and role in improving affordability for consumers, particularly in rural and regional areas.

“This is not the first time we have been promised a review of the $1 discount – but we live in hope,” says Mr Tambassis in a statement to members.

The letter commits to “early and inclusive negotiations” with the goal of signing a new Agreement with the Pharmacy Guild before the end of 2019.

On 7CPA funding the letter says: “Importantly, over the course of the agreement, aggregate agreed reimbursement to community pharmacy for the dispensing of prescriptions for patients will be delivered in full.”

Mr Tambassis stated that agreed funding under the 6CPA will not be delivered in full.

The Labor Party provided a letter of support to the Guild in March.

Since then the Guild has sought a supplementary message to provide clarity of Labor’s approach to pharmacy viability and consultation, since the release of the initial letter pre-dated a number of issues – including the emergence of the government’s PBS dual listing proposal.

However the Guild says it has been in “very high-level dialogue with the Labor Party”.

In late April, Mr Tambassis said: “Labor recognises that community pharmacy needs to be in a position of ‘no net disadvantage’ under the 7CPA.

“While reform and productivity gains need to considered within the scope of any new agreement, there should be no net disadvantage overall for pharmacy businesses”.

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