All Australian health care consumers will benefit from the passage through Federal Parliament today of legislation that will allow continued dispensing of some medicines by pharmacists in defined circumstances.
The National Health Amendment (Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement Initiatives) Bill 2011 – which went through the House of Representatives on 16 February and was passed unopposed by the Senate today – implements two key initiatives of the Community Pharmacy Agreement, both of which will deliver better health outcomes for Australian 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.
The measure will apply only to oral hormonal contraceptives, and Lipid Modifying Agents (known as statins), used in the treatment of high cholesterol.
The strict guidelines for continued dispensing will require that the medicine has been previously prescribed for the patient; that the therapy is stable and there has been prior clinical review by the prescriber that supports continuation of the medicine; and that the medicine is safe and appropriate for the consumer.
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