Longer length scripts a ‘false economy’

Increasing pack sizes and prescription length is “lunacy,” says the Guild’s executive director

In this week’s edition of Forefront, David Quilty slams recent suggestions that trips to pharmacies be reduced via such strategies.

In January, frequent critic of the community pharmacy sector Dr Evan Ackermann wrote a piece in MJA InSight suggesting that longer script durations should be encouraged, calling the current system of repeats “an anomaly which increases costs and inconveniences patients without any health benefit”.

Now, Mr Quilty says recent reports “expose the lunacy of suggestions by doctor commentators that prescription pack sizes be increased to reduce the need for patients to visit their local community pharmacy as often”.

“Such propositions, if ever implemented, would be a false economy, exacerbating issues of medicine misuse and in turn increasing the need for much more expensive interventions across the broader health system,” he writes.

He says that recent reports from the Productivity Commission and the Pharmacy Research Centre at the University of South Australia “clearly demonstrate” that an increased commitment to medication management delivered through community pharmacy is necessary.

Such a commitment is required to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and presentations to emergency departments, he says.

“Every patient visit to a community pharmacy is an opportunity to receive expert advice from the pharmacist who professionally dispenses their medicines,” he writes.

“Government policies should be actively encouraging patients to be visiting their highly accessible local pharmacies more often to make full use of this pharmacist expertise.  

“Responsibility for effective medication management rests with a patient’s prescribing doctor and their dispensing community pharmacist, working in collaboration.

“This tried-and-tested, best-practice approach ensures that the patient’s two most trusted and frequently accessed health professionals, namely their doctor who diagnoses their condition and prescribes their medications and their community pharmacist who dispenses the medications and provides the associated advice, are working together with joint responsibility for the patient’s health and safety.”

This model, underpinned by Medicare and the PBS, is the foundation of Australia’s public health system, Mr Quilty writes.

“It should be maintained, invested in and enhanced, not undermined, bypassed or fragmented.”

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