George Tambassis has written to the Federal Health Minister urging him to push forward pharmacist script renewals for the Pill
In the letter, sighted by the AJP, Mr Tambassis highlighted that it was Women’s Health Week (2-6 September) and said that prescription renewal for the oral contraceptive pill – provided a patient has been stabilised on the medicine – is already within the scope of practice of pharmacists.
“I am requesting you to lead discussions with your state and territory counterparts through the COAG process, to enable women to renew prescriptions for the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) through community pharmacies by the end of 2020,” Mr Tambassis wrote.
“Pharmacists already provide a similar service under continued dispensing regulations with no evidence of adverse health outcomes,” the letter says.
“They have the training and expertise to do more.
“Current continued dispensing regulations allow an emergency supply of an OCP, which is only permissible once every twelve months.
“Only one pack’s supply can be provided and only for OCPs which are on the PBS (which excludes around 40 per cent of women who take a non-PBS subsidised OCP).
“This reform would mean women would not have to see a GP for a medication many take for their whole reproductive lives and have the choice to obtain this medication from a pharmacist.
“This could save women both time, money and will help to ensure the OCP is accessible for all.”
Mr Tambassis highlights that the move could relieve time pressures on GPs and reduce waiting times, allowing them to give more time to treating serious conditions, rather than “routine” health care.
He also points out that Australia was the second country in the world to permit the prescription of the OCP, in 1961.
“This has empowered women to have greater control and choice in contraception. Today, some 80% of Australian women have used the OCP during their lives.
“Despite this proud achievement, Australia lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to women accessing the OCP. Currently, the OCP is more easily available in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – through pharmacies.
“With your support, Australia can continue our proud tradition and offer women a more affordable, accessible choice.”
The Guild’s recently released policy paper states that such provision of the OCP, alongside vaccinations and “other low risk healthcare treatments” is an area where pharmacists can reduce the burden of unnecessary GP visits.