Pharmacy bankruptcy on parliament’s agenda

Amendments to PBS bill tabled that allow for continued medicine supply when pharmacy bankruptcy occurs and impose fees on PBS supply applications

The National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2019, tabled for a second reading by the House of Representatives on Thursday 14 February, proposes two amendments: Application fees payable for applications by pharmacists to supply PBS medicines, and enabling PBS medicines supply to continue when a pharmacy enter bankruptcy.

The first amendment, which Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said had “strong support of the Pharmacy Guild and the PSA”, would apply an application fee when pharmacists make an application to supply PBS medicines at pharmacy premises.

The fee “will apply to all applications to establish a new pharmacy, relocate an existing pharmacy or where the pharmacy changes ownership,” Mr Hunt told the House of Representatives.

“Payment of the fee will be required at the time pharmacists submit their application.”

The amount will be determined by the Minister based on the regulatory activity involved in processing these types of applications, and the fees will be reviewed each year by the Department of Health and adjusted accordingly, he said.

The second change includes measures that will allow PBS medicines to continue to be supplied to patients following the bankruptcy of an approved pharmacist, “to ensure the community can continue to receive much-needed medicines and not be penalised as a consequence of those private operations”, Mr Hunt said.

The Minister said there are approximately 20 pharmacies each year affected by bankruptcy or external administration.

The bill provides the Secretary of the Department of Health the power to grant permission to an appointed administrator to manage the supply of PBS medicines at pharmacy premises.

“The new provisions will assist continuity of supply of PBS medicines at an affected pharmacy until such time as the pharmacy can be sold or transferred to another pharmacist,” Mr Hunt said.

“This will be of particular benefit in rural and remote areas, where access to alternative pharmacies may be limited”. 

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