Cheaper Medicines and Supporting Community Pharmacies

The Pharmacy Guild has launched a massive nationwide campaign opposing the Albanese Government’s reforms to bring down the cost of accessing regular medications.

The campaign is causing concern in regional communities, with claims by the Guild that moving from 30-day dispensing to 60-day dispensing will result in pharmacies closing.

The Government is confident the policy changes, announced in the May 9 budget, will result in savings of hundreds of dollars a year for people who require regular medicines.

The Government is also confident the changes will not result in pharmacy closures.

The changes are completely in line with advice from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Review Committee and have the support of the National Rural Health Alliance, the Rural Doctors’ Association, the College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Health Consumers Forum.

That’s a lot of medical experts backing the Government’s plan and only the Guild standing in opposition.

60-day dispensing is normal in a number of countries with similar health systems to Australia, including Canada and the UK. The sky hasn’t fallen in there, and there’s no reason to think the experience will be different here.

A number of pharmacists across the electorate have shared with me their concerns about potential impacts on their businesses, and I’ve ensured the Minister is aware of those concerns, that questions are answered and that support is made available where necessary.

It’s important that we take the concerns seriously, and that people’s concerns are treated respectfully.

The Government absolutely recognises the essential role pharmacies like many throughout Lyons play in regional Tasmania, and wonderful pharmacists are rightly treasured for the critical role they play, both as health professionals and as community members.

Anticipating the revenue impacts on pharmacies the Government announced the doubling of the Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance ahead of the introduction of this policy, and is looking to extend pharmacists’ scope of practice so they can offer more services, opening up more revenue stream opportunities.

This policy change isn’t an attempt to save the Government money: every single dollar saved by the Government in dispensing fees will be reinvested back into the community pharmacy sector. This is a policy change that saves Australians’ money.

There are some important caveats: GPs still have the choice of prescribing medicines in the quantity they consider clinically appropriate, and not all medicines will be able to be dispensed for 60 days.

This is a sensible policy change that follows independent, expert advice, and will result in Australians saving hundreds of dollars a year in unnecessary medical fees and charges.

The Government will continue to work with the community pharmacy sector, and I will ensure any unanticipated consequences are dealt with swiftly so we can ensure the ongoing health and strength of our vital rural and regional community pharmacies.