Minister addresses pharmacy sector

Health Minister Greg Hunt has taken to Forefront to update pharmacists on the government’s Budget agreement with the Pharmacy Guild

His message follows on from his address at the APP conference, in which he provided an overview of his plans and ongoing negotiations with the Pharmacy Guild.

Minister Hunt says the final agreement announced in the Budget in early May is the “culmination of open and constructive negotiations” with the Guild.

The agreement will provide a total of $825 million over the next three years to the end of the 6CPA which operates until 30 June 2020, explains the minister.

“This constitutes an appropriate response to an identified shortfall in the volume of dispensed medicines … as well as an investment of $600 million for new and expanded community pharmacy programs,” wrote Minister Hunt.

He also highlighted other agreements that were made, particularly with Medicines Australia which he described as “important and landmark compacts across the medicines supply chain”.

As part of the 2017-18 Budget, Medicines Australia and the Government signed a five-year agreement which will see innovative medicines reduced in price over 15 years, with single brand (innovative) medicines reduced in price after being on the PBS for 5, 10 and 15 years respectively.

“The agreement with the Pharmacy Guild includes support for one-off reductions for certain medicines that have been on the PBS for 10 to 15 years,” said Minister Hunt, referencing $10 million in compensation that will be paid to community pharmacies in 2018-19 and 2019-2020 through a further adjustment to the Administration Handling and Infrastructure fee (AHI), with an additional $15 million to go to wholesalers.

“It also includes support for the active participation by pharmacies in the uptake of lower-cost generic and biosimilar medicines. These measures are part of the broader compact across community pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry which will deliver savings to the PBS that will be returned through reinvestment in future new innovative medicines.”

He also confirmed he will “ensure the ongoing legislative basis for the Pharmacy Location Rules”.

“This will provide pharmacy owners with ongoing confidence that approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits, at particular premises, will continue to be regulated.”

“I want a health system where every Australian has access to the best doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals and allied health professionals,” said Minister Hunt.

“Our pharmacies and pharmacists are key to this vision and many are investigating how they can do more in the area of primary health care through the Health Care Homes trial and the Primary Health Networks.

“I know that the steps taken by the Australian Government in partnership with the Pharmacy Guild will ensure our health system continues to go from strength to strength and remain on of the best in the world.

“I look forward to working with the Pharmacy Guild in coming weeks, months and years,” he concluded.

The Guild has applauded the Minister’s Budget decisions. National President George Tambassis said they are “pleased to have reached an Agreement with the Government that supports community pharmacy in return for additional services and reform.

“These measures will have a tangible positive impact on the ability of community pharmacies to serve patients, to dispense affordable medicines, and to play a broader role in the provision of primary health care,” he said.

“The Government has recognised the key role that community pharmacy plays in the primary health care team, and the assistance that community pharmacy can provide in achieving the health system goal of providing the right care in the right place at the right time.”

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