No, pharmacies didn’t offer old over-65s stock: Guild

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A Pharmacy Guild spokesperson has told AMA president Dr Tony Bartone to “stop digging” over his old flu vaccine remarks

The spokesperson rejected fresh claims that pharmacists were administering the previous year’s version of the over-65 vaccine available in 2019.

Last week, Dr Bartone appeared on ABC Nightlife with Philip Clark, and said there had been an “episode” where pharmacists offered trivalent stock based on the previous year’s formulation.

He stated that this was due to “competitive pressures”.

Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis, who also appeared on the program, asked Dr Bartone for evidence to support this claim. The AJP has also since asked the AMA for any such evidence.

After the program aired, first the Guild and PSA rejected the assertion.

When asked to clarify the comments by the AJP, Dr Bartone responded that:

“My comments were about the timing of the vaccination, the appropriateness of the vaccine used, and the unnecessary cost to patients of a pharmacy vaccination when they may have been eligible for a free vaccination under the National Immunisation Program once the new vaccine was released,” he said.

“This year’s NIP vaccine for over 65s only became available in early to mid-April.

“Any over 65s vaccine used before then was not the most up-to-date, recommended vaccine for this season’s strain of flu.”

The Guild spokesperson has told the AJP that pharmacies were not offering old over-65 trivalent stock either.

“Up-to-date vaccines were distributed by manufacturers to pharmacies across the country in 2019 ahead of the distribution of the NIP vaccines,” the spokesperson said.

“These were not out-of-date or ‘based on the previous year’s formulation’ as Dr Bartone claimed.

“In 2019, many patients over the age of 65 wanted an influenza shot as soon as possible, and preferred to have it immediately it was available, even when it was explained to them that the NIP vaccine would be free for them if they waited.

“Our advice to Dr Bartone is this: When you’re in a hole, stop digging. Just apologise and move on.”

AJP readers have also taken issue with Dr Bartone’s initial and subsequent comments about the flu vacine.

“So would it not be time to explore legal options against these statements?” asked Philip Smith.

And “Can’t wait for the apology…” wrote Nicholas Logan.

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