The move towards continued dispensing of medicines by pharmacists in defined circumstances will deliver better health outcomes for Australian consumers and should be supported by Federal Parliament.
Continued dispensing is one of the measures facilitated by the National Health Amendments (Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement Initiatives) Bill 2011, which was introduced into the House of Representatives yesterday by Health Minister Nicola Roxon. It is intended that continued dispensing be implemented from 1 July next year.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia fully supports the measure because it is in the best interests of health consumers.
Continued dispensing will provide an additional mechanism for patients to gain access to certain Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines where a valid prescription is unavailable. This could apply, for example, in cases where a prescription has been lost and a doctor consultation is not readily available. Professional protocols will apply, so that quality and patient safety will not be compromised.
Initially, the measure will apply only to oral hormonal contraceptives, and Lipid Modifying Agents used in the treatment of high cholesterol. These two therapeutic groups have been chosen on the basis that they are relatively well tolerated medicines with a very good safety profile.