Union welcomes pharmacy deregulation move

pharmacist holds up bottle

Professional Pharmacists Australia has welcomed the Competition Policy Review’s recommendation to reconsider pharmacy location rules.

Professional Pharmacists Australia CEO Chris Walton is urging the government to reconsider location rules as recommend in the Competition Policy Review Report.

“Pharmacists are backing a review into location rules because it will be a decision that puts patients first,” Walton says.

“We are calling on the Minister for Health not to rush into the next Community Pharmacy Agreement, but to consider all the policy options on the table.

“When we add in location rules to the questions raised by the Auditor –General into the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement, we see a genuine opportunity to build a pharmacy model that supports clinically orientated pharmacists to improve health outcomes.”

Professional Pharmacists Australia supports ownership rules remaining, but says that opposition to reconsidering location rules and the traditional dispensing model is holding back employee and specialist pharmacists.

“It means taxpayers are not getting best value for money, patients are not getting the best healthcare and employee pharmacists are entangled in retail sales, rather than using their professional knowledge and skills,” Walton says.

“We have people suffering at home, or being admitted to hospital due to avoidable medicine misadventure.

“With the right policy settings, lifting location restrictions could unlock the frontline health care potential of pharmacists, expand access to new services, and ease pressures on the health system.

“More innovative rules have been adopted to great effect in places such as Scotland and New Zealand, where community pharmacy has shifted away from simply being a storefront, to becoming an integrated part of healthcare provision.

“Reviewing location rules before the next Community Pharmacy Agreement paves the way for improved access to medicines and quality advice without placing limitations on consumer choice.

“If there are specific areas that may struggle for access, the government can have targeted incentives to get pharmacists to that area – not necessarily via a shop front. This would be more efficient then setting up rules to prop up multiple pharmacies in metro areas.”

Professional Pharmacists Australia is formally requesting a range of urgent and important responses to the Australian National Audit Office and Competition Policy Review Report:

  1. That the ANAO conduct a complete audit into the use of public money allocated to the Pharmacy Guild;
  2. That the Senate Select Committee on Health respond with a full investigation of the ANAO’s report, to determine whether public money was used for the purposes it was intended;
  3. That the Government refer community pharmacy to the Productivity Commission, to ensure pharmacist skills and $15.6 billion of taxpayers’ dollars, are utilised to get the best possible outcome for the community; and
  4. That the government delay the negotiation of a further Community Pharmacy Agreement until these inquiries have occurred and allow the Pharmaceutical Benefits Remuneration Tribunal to set pharmacy remuneration if a suitable agreement cannot be reached.

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