10 April 2019

Leading health organisations representing GPs and patients call for patient safety to always be put above pharmacy profits

  • Many patients don’t go to the doctor and do not fill scripts because of cost
  • RACGP and CHF describe back down by Government on Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee decision to allow 60-day dispenses for 143 medications as a significant loss for patient safety and access to medicines.
  • Pharmacy Guild successfully lobbied Government to rethink its decision.
  • RACGP and CHF call on the Pharmacy Guild to prioritise patients.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) have joined forces to call on the Federal Government to rethink its decision to put a hold on plans that would enable patients to collect two months of scripts in a single visit to a pharmacy, after successful lobbying by the Pharmacy Guild.

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said the Government’s decision not to allow 60-day dispenses for 143 medications was in the best interest of pharmacy owners, not patients.

“We are extremely concerned the Government has backed down on a decision that was in the best interest of Australian patients, after intense lobbying by the Guild,” Dr Nespolon said.

“The Guild has lobbied for this change not because they believe it will improve patient safety and convenience, but because they know pharmacy profits may be impacted if 60-day dispensing was implemented.

“We don’t want to see a positive initiative for Australian patients dismissed because it doesn’t suit the financial interests of one particular lobby group.”

CEO of the CHF Leanne Wells said enabling patients to collect two months of scripts --- previously available under restricted access --- in a single visit to a pharmacy would be safe, practical and convenient for patients.
 “This policy reversal takes little heed of PBS and the expert, multidisciplinary advice of the PBAC and is counter to undertakings from both sides of politics that PBAC advice will be acted on, Ms Wells said.

 “Pharmacy owners derive considerable business as dispensers of PBS medicines.   Pharmacists also have widespread community respect.  We urge them to display respect for the community and accept the two-month script proposal and recognise the importance of patient convenience and cost savings for patients. The Guild’s action dismisses patient interests and risks eroding optimal access to health care.

“There are built in Quality Use of Medicine safeguards to discourage inappropriate use or waste. Whether patients get a two-month script is subject to the prescribing doctor being satisfied that their medication is warranted,” Ms Wells said.

“The public needs to be aware that when it comes down to pharmacy profits or patient benefits, the patient comes second to the Guild,” RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said.

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