‘You wouldn’t let a podiatrist perform brain surgery.’

man holding 'no' sign

Pharmacists are ‘not qualified’ to dispense emergency and repeat prescriptions, says a prominent GP

AMA Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia has condemned the findings of the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry into the Establishment of a Pharmacy Council and Transfer of Pharmacy Ownership, accusing the “pharmacy lobby” of greed.

The AMAQ has significant concerns about 11 “deeply concerning” recommendations in the report, including:

  • “Allowing pharmacists who are not qualified as doctors to give out emergency and repeat prescriptions;”
  • “Considering allowing community pharmacy assistants to handle dangerous drugs;” and
  • “Setting up a Pharmacy Advisory Council without the expertise of a doctor”.

Dr Dhupelia said the recommendations would allow pharmacists to operate “practically unchecked” in Queensland.

He urged state Health Minister Steven Miles to reject the proposals.

“Queenslanders must be able to trust that their health is being looked after by skilled, qualified doctors, not drug dispensers,” Dr Dhupelia said.

“You wouldn’t let a podiatrist perform brain surgery and it’s not okay to let pharmacists prescribe medications or provide inexpert medical advice.

“The Health Minister is duty bound to protect patients, not bow to the pharmacy lobby’s greed and make it easier for people to buy drugs without a prescription or seeing a doctor.”

Instead, the Minister should incentivise pharmacists to work in GP surgeries, he said.

 “The public health system would save $545 million over four years by having pharmacists working within GP practices,” he said.

“But that saving has been ignored by this committee.

“Instead, it’s proposing changes that are dangerous to patients and could be disastrous for our health system.”

His response was similar to that of AMA national president Dr Tony Bartone, who said that concerns about accessibility of health care would not be addressed by providing a “second-best alternative” in pharmacists, and that the recommendations would lead to fragmentation of care.

“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 said.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles told the Courier-Mail that he was looking forward to reviewing the committee’s report.

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