Health Minister Sussan Ley is keen to see the results of the review into pharmacy remuneration and location rules, she told delegates to the PSA15 conference today.
“I am sure that all professional pharmacists as well as pharmacy owners will also take great interest in the review of pharmacy remuneration and location rules,” she said.
“This independent, public review will commence in September.
“Given the importance of pharmacy and pharmacies, I anticipate contributions from a wide range of community groups and stakeholders, but the review will be completed by July 2017 at the latest.
“I will be very keen to see its results.
“It will give us insights not only in relation to the location of pharmacies and the impact of the current location rules.
“I am also hoping for insights into the contribution of trained pharmacists and how we can use your skills to improve the health of Australians all over this great country.”
Minister Ley outlined the evolution of the profession from the apothecaries of the Middle Ages.
“Firstly, the modern pharmacist is increasingly recognised as a frontline source of professional advice on medicines and patient health,” she told the conference.
“Secondly, this knowledge and the value of their role has continued to evolve as we advance in our medical and scientific knowledge.
“Both messages are highly relevant to today – reflected in your conference theme, and in the Government’s reforms to both pharmacy and to the broader health system.
“The modern pharmacist is now so much more than a person who provides a box of medicines to a consumer. Among many other things, they are a central player as part of the front line of modern health care.”
The Government’s priorities in health reform clearly reflect this, she said, as part of the wider reforms it negotiated with the sector this year.
“Through successive Agreements we have negotiated with the sector and we have continued to increase investment that seeks to reshape the way pharmacists and pharmacy can be an important part of our health care system.
- recognising the central skills and role pharmacists bring to the table in medication management, and supporting Quality Use of Medicines;
- working as part of the health team to improve chronic disease management, helping people with complex medicine needs and helping to identify early and link people in with the support and services they need to help improve their health outcomes;
- helping to bridge the city-country gap in health service delivery;
- increasing health protection and health promotion for Australians to enable them to avoid major illness;
- and, of course, ensuring consumers access the medicines they need in a timely way, through the PBS; and
- through the above, underpinning our goal to ensure the PBS delivers value for money for both consumers and taxpayers.
“These goals, which have been a core part of the Coalition’s approach to your profession, continue to seek to take pharmacy into areas that mean you are more than just dispensers of medicines,” she said.
She said the pharmacy could be described as having replaced the post office as the cornerstone of many communities—“adding to the social fabric as well as individual health and wellbeing”.
6cpa reflects longstanding Coalition respect and commitment towards the pharmacy profession, she said.
“This investment is now very firmly towards allowing you to more proactively use the training and knowledge that you have regarding medicines and other therapies and when and how they should be used, as well as becoming more involved in primary health care, working with doctors and other health professionals.
“Pharmacists can now offer consumers a discount of up to $1 per script on the price on the PBS co-payment,” she said.
“This measure will drive greater competition in the pharmacy sector and deliver PBS savings of more than $360 million over five years.
“A $20 million awareness campaign to increase the use of ‘biosimilar medicines’ by patients, pharmacists and specialists, is also expected to reduce PBS costs by $880 million.
“The premium-free dispensing incentive will be better targeted, to encourage use of generic medicines, reduce medicine costs for consumers, and save around $560 million over five years.
“Some low cost medicines which are available over the counter will be removed from the PBS – saving $500 million over five years. The medicines in question will be chosen on advice from the PBAC.
“The new handling and infrastructure fee will provide $1.5 billion to pharmacies – restoring their remuneration to the average levels provided under the previous Fifth Agreement, and providing greater income certainty.”