Missed opportunity for pharmacists?


While the SHPA has welcomed billions in additional hospital funding, the PSA says this year’s Budget misses the opportunity to further maximise the role of pharmacists

The PSA has strongly welcomed the Federal Government’s Budget announced Tuesday night, including a resolution to the risk share dispute.

It also welcomed the confirmed allocation of $600 million for community pharmacy programs as part of the 6CPA.

“Pharmacists welcome the strong investment by the Federal Government in Australia’s vital and established community pharmacy network,” said PSA National Vice President Michelle Lynch.

“Whilst the commitment to community pharmacy programs is excellent news for pharmacists and consumers, there is a significant opportunity missed in the Budget for further maximising the role of pharmacists – the most accessible health professionals in Australia – especially in terms of innovation and delivering new, evidence-based services.”

However the PSA has questions regarding the $600 million funding for community pharmacy programs, which will go to:

  • Dose Administration Aids – providing Government-funded DAAs to eligible chronically ill patients ($340m)
  • Staged Supply ($80m)
  • Expansion of MedsCheck and Diabetes MedsCheck program ($90m)
  • Home Medicines Reviews, including follow up services in community pharmacy ($60m)
  • Incorporating medication management programs within Health Care Homes (HCH) ($30m)

“These investments, according to the 6CPA, seek to ‘improve clinical outcomes and extend the role of the pharmacist in the delivery of primary health care’,” said Ms Lynch.

“Apart from the HCH program, all of these are programs currently being delivered under the 6CPA.  This funding, while a welcome and celebrated investment, was intended to flow from outcomes of the Pharmacy Trial Program (PTP).  So far, only one of three trials announced in March 2016 has commenced.

“If we are to see innovation and broadening the role of pharmacists in Australia to benefit consumers, how will this now be funded and scaled up after the trials as intended?” she asked.

“Secondly, the Agreement earmarked this $600 million to focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and rural consumers, who have the highest needs in our health system. How will this now be achieved?”

Hospital pharmacists extend praise

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) has also praised the Government’s Budget boost for healthcare, including $2.8 billion extra for hospital funding, new protection for the PBS, measures to reduce out-of-pocket PBS costs, and commitment to some hospital pharmacy initiatives.

SHPA CEO Kristin Michaels says the Budget delivers promises and assurances to a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from medicines wholesalers to patients and consumers.

“SHPA welcomes the priority and importance the Turnbull Government has placed on medicines, with this Budget recognising the importance of the PBS as a key pillar of Australia’s healthcare system,” she said.

Mandatory and tiered price reductions will apply to current patented medicines in the F1 formulary category from 1 July 2018, while medicines that move from F1 to F2 formulary and lose their patent will face a mandatory price reduction of 25% (up from 16%).

“SHPA is pleased to see the majority of these savings generated from pricing policies – $1.8 billion across the next five years – will not only reduce out-of-pocket costs for Australians, but will be used to fund new medicines listings to the benefit of all Australians,” Ms Michaels said.

“Hospital pharmacists, who facilitate 20% of PBS expenditure, manage the dispensing of an overwhelmingly higher proportion of generic medicines than their community pharmacist counterparts, and will therefore play a key role in aiding the government in achieving these PBS savings,” she said.

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