02 August 2023

Consumer and medical groups call on Opposition, Greens to support 60-day scripts to save patients money and time

Consumer, health and doctor groups are urging Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and The Greens to rule out a disallowance motion on 60-day dispensing and commit to saving some 6 million Australians money and time.

The current 60 Day Dispensing reforms due to commence on 1 September will double the amount of medicines pharmacists can dispense to patients to up to 60 days’ worth for more than 320 medicines for stable chronic conditions on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The changes have been welcomed by patient and consumer groups, including the Consumer Health Forum, Asthma Australia, Breast Cancer Network Australia, Lung Foundation Australia, and the Australian Multicultural Health Collaborative, as well as National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

But over the past several months there has been a coordinated scare campaign to stop the changes, which has raised concerns that the Opposition and The Greens will try to block the reform in the Senate with a disallowance motion.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President Dr Nicole Higgins said: “I’m calling on Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and The Greens to put Australians first and rule out a disallowance. 60-day dispensing is in patients’ best interests – it will save around 6 million people money and time, and free up GP consults for other patients.

“Disappointingly, this scare campaign has targeted vulnerable people with fearful messages and misinformation, including claims there will be shortages of medicines that aren’t on the list for 60-day scripts. This campaign also fails to acknowledge that all the Budget savings are being reinvested back into community pharmacy. We welcomed the significant financial boost for community pharmacies, which took effect July 1st, and an additional $148.2 million is being provided to help regional, rural, and remote pharmacies adjust to 60-day scripts.

“In a poll of GPs around Australia, 85% agreed their patients would benefit from 60-day dispensing. On behalf of patients, the RACGP is calling on Australia’s political leaders to stand strong and support 60-day dispensing. In a cost-of-living-crisis, this reform will make a difference for the people in our community who need it most.”

Michele Goldman, Asthma Australia CEO said: “We have one of the highest rates of asthma in the developed world. People have told us they often skip doses to stretch out asthma medicine or share medicine around the family due to the high cost of preventer medicines. The double dispensing savings for people with stable asthma will greatly reduce financial pressure on families and the risk of them rationing the medicine they need to breathe. We call on the Greens and Opposition to put these people first.”

Breast Cancer Network Australia Director Policy, Advocacy & Support Services Vicki Durston said: “BCNA supports 60-day dispensing, in particular for those with chronic conditions such as cancer. We know that those living with chronic diseases are especially vulnerable during the current cost of living crisis. On behalf of our network, we call on opposition and The Greens to put consumers first and support this policy.”

Australian Medical Association President Professor Steve Robson said: “There is simply no valid reason to block this measure, which would simply be giving in to an orchestrated and misleading scare campaign. At a time when many people are struggling with cost-of-living pressures the Opposition and the Greens need to get behind 60-day dispensing, otherwise patients will continue to absorb unnecessary financial pain with all the negative consequences this brings in terms of access to health care.”

60-day medicine dispensing will                                                                            

  • Benefit approximately 6 million people with chronic and ongoing conditions – including a significant number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians who have a higher prevalence of chronic conditions.
  • Save consumers up to $180 a year and more for people taking multiple medicines.
  • Mean fewer trips to pick up medicines and repeat scripts, saving people time and money, and freeing up GP appointments for other patients.
  • Bring Australia into line with other high-income countries like New Zealand, the USA and Canada, where people already have access to multiple months of medication on a single prescription.
  • Improve system equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who suffer more from chronic disease. There is strong evidence showing the value of medicine cost reduction for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Increase convenience for consumers, which will increase medication adherence.
  • Implement a recommendation from the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). PBAC has dismissed claims the change would cause medication shortages.

Media enquiries

Journalists and media outlets seeking comment and information from the RACGP can contact John Ronan, Ally Francis and Stuart Winthrope via: