Community Pharmacy model serves Australia well

Country: Australia
Title: Community Pharmacy Model Serves AU..
Date: 2010/03/09
Media Release by Pharmacy Guild of Australia: Community Pharmacy model serves Australia well

The AMA’s call for doctors to own and operate pharmacies should be rejected as a backward and dangerous step. Far from being a ‘positive health reform for patients’, the AMA’s proposal is a transparent power grab which would breach the important distinctions between prescribing and dispensing medicines.

It is unfortunate for the AMA that their push to control pharmacies should appear the same day the Daily Telegraph in Sydney is declaring that some doctors are “dosed up on donations” from major drug companies. What an unfortunate juxtaposition. Doctors would only be further compromised if they owned pharmacies.

The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission Report “A Healthier Future for all Australians” released in June 2009 gave a damning picture of the level of access to doctor services, and came up with a raft of recommendations to address the lack of equitable access to care. There was no such commentary about community pharmacy services. The problems in the medical system are real and they have an impact on real people. Try getting in to see a bulk billing doctor today. In community pharmacy under our current arrangements we guarantee you can see a pharmacist today to get your prescription needs met.

The Australian public are well served by the current community pharmacy model. Around 80 per cent of all medicines in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme are sold at the same subsidised price (namely the patient co-payment) wherever they are sold across Australia. For pensioners $5.40 is the price of a PBS medicine in all corners of Australia. The same access to bulk billing does not apply.

To any objective observer, the idea that doctors should be able to write prescriptions and direct patients to their own pharmacy in the same premises should ring alarm bells. Doctors would be better served by the AMA if it worked with governments to address long waiting times in GP surgeries, rather than scheming to take over pharmacy.

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Kos Sclavos, said: “Pharmacists remain Australia’s most accessible health care professionals – no need for an appointment, no Medicare consultation fee, and available at 5,000 locations across Australia. That is a service level that will never be achieved under the AMA.”

For further information: Greg Turnbull 0412 910261