Pharmacy deregulation OK by us: AMA

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Co-location of pharmacies with either supermarkets or medical centres would be welcomed by the AMA, as long as a registered pharmacist remained responsible for dispensing

In its submission to the 6CPA Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation, the AMA said it supports “high-quality primary health care services that are convenient to patients, enhance patient access and improve collaboration between healthcare professionals”.

“Co-location of medical and pharmacy services would clearly facilitate this.”

The AMA said current restrictions on co-location only when there are at least eight full-time prescribers in the medical centre are “inflexible and difficult to justify in terms of public benefit”.   

The doctor’s group also said it had “no concerns” about locating pharmacy premises within or adjacent to supermarkets, as long a registered pharmacist remains responsible for dispensing.

A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said “It is disappointing that the AMA would openly support pharmacies within supermarkets, given the clearly adverse impact supermarket pharmacies would have on the standard of care and accountability provided to patients, left to the whim of big supermarket shareholders.

“In the face of creeping corporatisation of medical practices in Australia, it is baffling that the AMA would want to see more of the same in the pharmacy sector, where community pharmacies are proudly and responsibly owned by pharmacists”.

The AMA also restated its opposition to the expansion of pharmacy professional services, except in areas that support medication management and adherence, such as HMRs and DAAs, and programs that enhance improve rural and remote and ATSi health.

“Over the last few years, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has pushed for a range of additional services to be funded under the framework of the Community Pharmacy Agreement to generate additional sources of income for pharmacies. These additional services represent an expansion of pharmacists’ scope of practice beyond their core education and training,” the AMA submission said.

Proposed services they take issue with include: prescribing Schedule 4 medicines; early detection and intervention for mental illness; advice on nutrition, weight loss, smoking cessation, pregnancy and baby care; chronic disease management, e.g. asthma and diabetes.

“By lobbying for these types of services to be funded under the Community Pharmacy Agreement, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, representing for-profit business owners, is trying to drive the scope of practice of a health profession. The Pharmacy Board of Australia has not been involved in any way.

“This is not an appropriate way to design a health care system to meet the future needs of the  community.”

Click here to see the submission

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