Minister tells AMA that pharmacy is crucial to Australia’s health care and that dispensary reform is key
Pharmacy sits as one of the four pillars of healthcare, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told the Australian Medical Association’s National Conference in Melbourne last weekend.
Speaking at the conference, Mr Hunt outlined the scope of the government’s commitment to healthcare funding reform, and highlighted its agreement with Medicines Australia and with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia as centrepieces of this reform process.
“If you look at the challenges in health over successive governments, over many, many years, much of it emanates from the epicentre of the PBS,” he said.
“The great trend of history is that new medicines are being developed all of the time to deal with extraordinary conditions”.
Now the agreement with Medicines Australia for the first time was addressing the problem of how to pay for expensive new drugs, the Minister said.
“They were willing to accept lower prices for the listed formula one drugs and lower prices in the transition from formula one to formula two of $1.8 billion over five years.
So a very significant reduction in return for the guarantee, for the first time, we would create genuine headroom, a space for new listings, and what that does is it’s very important for the drugs, but in particular it protects the rest of the health budget in Australia”.
In addition, the agreement with the Pharmacy Guild, “which in particular is predicated on the ability to make savings through their dispensing processes”, has also allowed us to reinvest in that sector, Mr Hunt said.
“So anything that we’ve done is allowing for the full reinvestment. That’s the theory behind the four critical areas of agreements with the specialists, with the doctors, with the pharmacists, and with the medicines providers in the country”.
“There were a few things that had to happen in order to have that fresh start,” he said.
“One is to strike compacts with all of the sectors, two is to ensure that there was indexation, three was to ensure that there was stability in terms of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and four was to ensure that the unlegislated measures, which in my view were never going to pass, were dropped forever”.