Week in review

CWH on location rules, union protests, pharmacists acting irresponsibly, koalas… and more

Doctors’ groups in the mix

This week the Australian Medical Association (AMA) called for pharmacy programs to be funded under an MBS-style system separate to dispensing.

“Given these programs are about providing health services, rather than medicines dispensing per se, it makes sense for them to be assessed, monitored, evaluated and audited in a similar way to medical services under the MBS,” they wrote in their submission to the King Review Interim Report.

A few days later, the group criticised pharmacy organisations’ attempts to work on a ‘Prescription—except when’ model for codeine.

“At this stage, we do not want to see the peddling of alternative models, dressed up as ‘patient concern’, which undermine the TGA position,” said the AMA.

Guild National President George Tambassis responded that “Neither the Guild nor community pharmacies are acting irresponsibly. It’s time for the AMA to put common sense and patients before tired old turf wars.”

And in other codeine news, Victoria introduced legislation to deliver its own real-time prescription monitoring system.

Chemist Warehouse creates waves

Chemist Warehouse
Image by Francisco Anzola https://www.flickr.com/photos/fran001/

The discount pharmacy giant called location rules “nonsensical”, and argued against the removal of the $1 co-payment discount in its submission to the King Review Interim Report.

“[We] contend affordability in so far as it relates to access is in no way benefited nor enhanced by enforcing a blanket prohibition on discounting of a patient’s co-payment,” wrote CWH group commercial manager Damien Gance.

“If, for someone in financial hardship, a pharmacy wishes to reduce the cost of a patient’s medication in order to provide ongoing access and to assist them with their medication compliance, this proposal would prohibit such compassionate acts. How could this possibly be deemed improved access?

Discounting of PBS patient contributions does not create inequity; it creates competition,” said Chemist Warehouse.

It also said it saw “no reason why pharmacies should not be able to sell homeopathic medicines”.

Professional practice

The latest communique from the Victorian Pharmacy Authority has revealed a range of regulatory breaches previously under investigation by the authority. 

The VPA conducted five panel hearings in June 2017 into breaches of pharmacy regulations—including once case where a licensee was reprimanded for “numerous discrepancies” in a Schedule 8 register when compared with stock on hand.

Regulators also highlighted problems with S8 disposal processes and dispensary workloads.

AJP published a story providing 15 ideas for your pharmacy career—which one appeals to you?

The pharmacist union PPA held protests against cuts to penalty rates across Australia outside of Amcal pharmacies, which Sigma called “unprofessional and inappropriate”.

And Ramsay Health Care came under criticism after it announced its intention to enter community pharmacy, with owners expressing concern about their franchise model.

The concerns prompted Pharmacy Guild of Australia president George Tambassis to write a message to members, reassuring them that the Guild is taking measures “to ensure that the Ramsay Pharmacy Group’s operations comply with pharmacy ownership laws”.

Ramsay Health Care Group defended itself, saying that the Guild is making the claims based on “erroneous” information.

Where are the eucalyptus drops?

Tocumwal Guardian Pharmacy in NSW made headlines this week after a cute koala wandered inside, stealing the hearts of the staff.

“Where are the eucalyptus drops? He walked the store, got some free pharmacy advice and then headed to the tree up the road. Only in Toc!” said the pharmacy on its Facebook page.

“It was a wild koala, so I didn’t know what to expect. So when it came in, I thought ‘oh… oh no, I hope it doesn’t hurt itself’. But it was so relaxed and cruisy,” said pharmacy assistant Gabby Wiles.

The pharmacy staff were advised to let it do its thing, then escorted it safely down the road to the closest tree.

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