No S3 ad decision for at least a year


It’s likely to be at least another year before a decision is made on S3 advertising to consumers, says David Quilty 

The Pharmacy Guild executive director told the audience of a panel session on Friday morning that the concept was gaining support, including from Labor.

“This has to go through a TGA process and Government decision making process,” he said. “It’s inevitably slow.

“It’s important that we get this right, they are Pharmacist Only for a reason and we ned to make sure that any advertising that is allowed is health focused and is effectively health information.

“We don’t want any advertising that treats these items as grocery items.

“However the Guild is generally supportive and working with ASMI on this issue.

“I think we’re looking at least another year before a decision on this will be made.”

Yesterday ASMI chair Lindsay Forrest presented the results of the CHERE analysis of the response it its mock S3 ad, and called on pharmacy to lobby for S3 advertising to consumers.

He told the audience that the ad, for a fictitious cold sore treatment, influenced consumers’ health-seeking behaviour and did much more than just “sell brands”.

Consumers who saw the advertisement were more likely to visit a pharmacist than a GP, not just for cold sore treatment, but also for other minor health conditions, he said.

S3 advertising drove more ‘health conversations’ between consumers and pharmacists, which has the potential to slash government spending on healthcare (i.e. Medicare, PBS, hospital visits), Mr Forrest said.

Another key finding was that pharmacists and pharmacy assistants were not influenced by the advertisement.

“The only significant driver to recommendation was whether the therapy was appropriate for the consumer’s symptoms/condition… pharmacists were more scrutinizing of appropriateness of therapy for the advertising test group than the non-advertising control group,” Mr Forrest said.

“The vast majority of pharmacists were also comfortable referring up (to a GP) or denying consumer requests if the medicine was not appropriate.” The experiment also addressed concerns that advertising would drive inappropriate demand. “The evidence showed that consumers are very comfortable with pharmacists determining whether advertised S3 product is right for them,” Mr Forrest said.

“The proposed S3 advertising model is a win on all fronts with better QUM (quality use of medicines) outcomes,” Mr Forrest said. “The next step for us is to feed these findings into the Government’s medicines scheduling framework review, which is slated for this month.”

He urged pharmacy to get behind the initiative.

“If pharmacy does not make comment and submission for these changes, the only thing the Government will hear will be from the GPs and naysayers and I’ll stand here in five years’ time still advocating for the model.”

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