‘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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  1. Adam

    Whilst I agree in part with what Dr Dhupelia is saying (and let’s ignore the fact that this model is already successful in other countries), is there any possibility that I could read an article from any of these “prominent GPs” without feeling personally attacked and that my chosen profession is regarded so poorly? Where is any response to quotes like these which defend the not-so-subtle comments like “drug dispensers” (in lieu of actually calling us Pharmacists?). I’m sick and tired of hearing 10 personal attacks AGAINST pharmacists with 1 response FROM prominent pharmacists in return.

    • PharmOwner

      It’s just the medical version of someone “marking their territory”. Dogs do it by urinating everywhere. GPs do it by attacking pharmacists at every opportunity – take it as a compliment, they feel threatened by us. And get used to it. It’s been happening for decades.

  2. Anthony Tassone

    Fact: brain surgery is not within the scope of practice of a podiatrist.

    Fact: delivery of immunisations is within the scope of practice of a pharmacist.

    Anthony Tassone
    President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Victoria Branch)

  3. Paige

    The greedy doctor lobby accusing the greedy pharmacy lobby of greed. The world keeps spinning.

    You’re both as bad as each other. Flush the lot of them.

  4. Deep Dehal

    Podiatrist cannot perform brain surgery as it is outside of their scope of practice. Pharmacists study same anatomy, physiology, pathology that doctor study (much more pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, pharmaceutical science, medicinal chemistry, biochemistry than doctors). As you referred us as dispenser, let me tell you that dispensing is only 5% of our training. Dear doctor do not forget it still takes 6 to 7 years full time university study for a pharmacist to become a prescriber pharmacist in developed countries. Australia is already 15 year late to catch up. Many pharmacist who migrated to Australia they have prescribing rights in their respective countries, but cannot practice to their full potential in Australia. We do not google search but our practice is evidence based on current clinical studies and their meta analysis. We are not second best to anyone, we are the best. We know the science to develop a drug from few atoms and to enable its targeted delivery. We know the drug interactions, indications and contraindications and valid substitute. Pharmacist just struggle to read messy handwritten prescriptions so decided to write it themselves, I do not see that is a problem. I can prescribe 14 tablets of Nexium to my patients, but require a prescription for 30 tablets for the patient that has concession card and required longer duration of therapy but who cannot pay OTC price. PBS should also fund OTC S3 to reduce doctor shopping.

  5. Chuck Norris

    1. I would love to see Medical Clinics dispense medicines for its patients and compete against Chemist Warehouse. Approval numbers will not be created for medical clinics, so the medicines it dispenses will not be subsidised by the PBS which puts the medical clinic in direct competition with Chemist Warehouse.

    Good luck paying off your half a million dollar stockpile of medicines!

    2. With the massive drops in cost and profitability for most medicines in Australia, THERE IS NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST ANYMORE!

    A pharmacist will not prescribe an alternative therapy for the sake of making an extra 10c.

  6. Willy the chemist

    It seems that those “peacemakers” the likes of our prominent pharmacists, PSA and Hospital Society are so misguided in their conciliatory endeavours and push for pharmacists in medical centre funded to GPs through the MBS.
    It’s clear as day, unless heads of the doctor groups adopt a more inclusive & cooperative approach, it’s better for pharmacists not to support the colleagues to work in medical clinics.
    And why do they feel the need to comment on another profession all the time?

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