Tinkering with the system

The Pharmacy Guild has taken out an advertisement in The Australian, calling on the Morrison Government to maintain support for community pharmacy in next Tuesday’s Budget

The ad highlights to readers that Australia’s 5,723 pharmacies provide health advice and care, as well as medicines, to more than 449 million individual patient visitors each year.

“We make your health our business because looking after our communities is what we do every day,” the ad says.

“That’s why we are taking out this ad…

“To remind the Government, ahead of the Federal Budget being handed down next week, that community pharmacy needs the Government’s support to ensure that we can continue to provide equal access to medicines and care for all Australians.”

A spokesperson for the Guild told the AJP today that “Community pharmacies require support to continue fulfilling their roles in relation to the PBS and advice and health care, and sometimes we feel government needs a reminder about what’s at stake if they ignore our needs or seek to tinker with the system for constant savings.”

The Guild's advertisement in The Australian.
The Guild’s advertisement in The Australian.

The ad placement follows yesterday’s communique from the Pharmacy Guild outlining its current dispute with the Government over a proposed increase in script quantities from one month to two months, for more than 140 molecules currently listed on the PBS.

Guild national president George Tambassis wrote that he was “staggered” and felt “a sense of astonishment and anger” over the proposed move, which followed an unpublished recommendation from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Mr Tambassis also wrote an opinion piece published in pharmacy media, including the AJP, this week expressing dismay and saying that the Guild was fiercely resisting the idea.

These statements also followed a suggestion from Dr Evan Ackermann, a prominent GP and frequent critic of the pharmacy sector, who wrote in MJA InSight recently that such a move could have cost benefits for the health system and for patients.

Dr Ackermann told the AJP that he had been unaware that such a measure was being formally considered.

Guild pharmacists reacted strongly on social media to the suggestion that script lengths be extended.


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