PBS savings threaten pharmacy viability

Dec 17, 2013
The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook shows the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is not only sustainable, but is also delivering the largest savings of any budget measure.

Payments under the PBS are expected to be $526 million lower in 2013-14, and $2.7 billion lower over four years.  

The MYEFO document says this largely reflects “higher than estimated savings resulting from existing pricing policy.” This confirms the PBS is sustainable.

This $2.7 billion fillip for the Budget comes on top of the $6 billion of downgrades of PBS expenditure forward estimates since the 2011-12 Budget.

The Executive Director of the Guild, David Quilty, said: “While this is great news for taxpayers and for the Commonwealth coffers, it must be remembered that these exponential PBS savings are having a flow-on impact on the viability of local community pharmacies.”

The Pharmacy Guild estimates that the total impact of price disclosure on community pharmacies in 2014-15 will be on average a $90,000 reduction off the bottom line.  This includes $30,000 off the bottom line as a result of the accelerated price disclosure measure announced by the previous Government in August, without consultation with the industry. We believe this will threaten the viability of 40 per cent of Australia’s 5350 pharmacies – forcing loss of services and jobs.

Just this week the Government confirmed another round of price disclosure reductions to take effect from April next year. It has been clear for some years that the existing price disclosure regime is continuing to deliver larger than expected savings to the Commonwealth.

The Guild will continue to press the Government on the need for an adjustment to pharmacy remuneration to offset the impact of the newly-legislated accelerated price disclosure when it kicks in next financial year.