‘Serious conflict of interest’ opens up for pharmacists: AMA


Dr Tony Bartone. Image Courtesy AMA.
Dr Tony Bartone. Image Courtesy AMA.

Pharmacists are a “second best” alternative to GP care, says the AMA’s national president

The AMA has slammed the findings of the Queensland Parliament’s Committee Report into the Establishment of a Pharmacy Council and Transfer of Pharmacy Ownership, saying patients will be “big losers” if pharmacists expand their scope of practice.

National president Dr Tony Bartone says that the committee has delivered recommendations that will “significantly” fragment health care.

The recommendations will also lead to worse outcomes for patients, he says.

“The Report contains recommendations to expand the role of pharmacists, including in relation to the prescribing of medications,” Dr Bartone said.

“It is well known that the more that other non-medical health professionals are involved in prescribing, the higher risks of medication error and adverse reactions,” Dr Bartone says.

The AMA’s submission to the inquiry had warned against pharmacists being able to practice to their full scope.

“We are in the middle of a real effort to introduce the medical home concept in Australia, where GPs are able to coordinate patient care, with full access to a patient’s medical history,” he says.

“GPs are the only trained primary health professionals who have the skills needed to properly and comprehensively diagnose patients, prescribe the right medications, and refer patients to other health care providers as appropriate.

“These are skills that come from years of observing and examining patients, and understanding how text books and the real live patient overlap.

“Clinical training is an art that has its foundations over the centuries, and cannot be learnt by simply and solely reading texts.”

He said that GPs work closely with pharmacists and respect their expertise, particularly regarding the quality use of medicines, but the report “totally ignores the well-understood need in our health system to strengthen the coordination of care, and the need to encourage patients to have a long-term relationship with a usual GP or general practice”.

“The Report also opens up a serious conflict of interest for pharmacists who will gain commercially through prescribing of medications, and then being able to dispense them,” Dr Bartone says.

“We already know that pharmacies sell many complementary medicines that are not backed by clinical evidence.

“This highlights the retail pressure they are under to sell products to consumers regardless of patient need.”

If the recommendations were adopted, Australia would be set on a dangerous course, he says.

“We have a GP-led model of care that is the envy of the world, and we know that GPs are highly accessible in most parts of the country.

“We have primary care outcomes that are second to none.

“Any access concerns cannot be solved by providing a second-best alternative.

“The Australian community deserves more than this. We need to build on this proven model of GP-led care, rather than undermine it by giving in to the retail interests of the pharmacy sector,” Dr Bartone said.

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8 Comments

  1. Gavin Mingay
    17/10/2018

    Ahhh.. The good old “pharmacies sell many complementary medicines that are not backed by clinical evidence” line. I’m guessing Dr Bartone has NEVER given a patient with a cold any antibiotics because they insisted on getting a script??
    Pharmacists can and do make recommendations regarding the effectiveness of complementary medicines, but if a patient insists on taking it and feels that there will be a positive effect, with no real risk of harm, what would he suggest we do?

  2. kyren
    17/10/2018

    I really think you should be able to prescribe your own medication. Both GPs and pharmacists are conflicted, both get money from you being ill, not well. People seem to forget that.

  3. Deep Dehal
    18/10/2018

    Stopped otc codeine, here we see prescription for 100 tablets codeine forte formulation. We are already prescribing s2 and s3 (smaller pack size than s4) Dear doctor do not forget it still takes 7 years full time study for a pharmacist to become a prescribing pharmacist in other developed countries. We donot just study from tertiary resources such as textbooks we also do evidence based practice based on current clinical studies and their meta analysis. We are not second best to anyone, we are the best. We know the science to develop a drug from few atoms and to enable its targeted delivery. We know the drug interactions, indications and contraindications. We just struggle to read messy handwritten prescriptions so decided to write it ourselves.

  4. PharmOwner
    19/10/2018

    “It is well known that the more that other non-medical health professionals are involved in prescribing, the higher risks of medication error and adverse reactions,” Dr Bartone says.
    References please?

  5. PharmOwner
    19/10/2018

    “The AMA’s submission to the inquiry had warned against pharmacists being able to practice to their full scope.”
    Why is the AMA so fearful of pharmacists practising to our full scope? Do pharmacists hinder medicos in the practise of their chosen profession?

  6. PharmOwner
    19/10/2018

    “We have primary care outcomes that are second to none.”
    In the interest of practising evidence-based medicine, references/evidence for this statement please.

  7. Chuck Norris
    20/10/2018

    With the massive drops in cost and profitability for most medicines in Australia, THERE IS NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST ANYMORE!

    A pharmacist will not prescribe an alternative therapy for the sake of making an extra 10c.

    If all pharmacists were allowed to prescribe and all doctors were allowed to dispense, most medical clinics would be forced to shut down because NO doctor would be interested in dispensing 200 prescription per day. Furthermore no medical clinic would invest half a million bucks to keep a stock-hold of medicines to dispense for it’s patients.

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