Pharmacy industry faces 11pc hit if drugs made cheaper, easier to access – The Australian Financial Review

Pharmacy industry faces 11pc hit if drugs made cheaper, easier to access - The Australian Financial Review

IBISWorld says about 4.9 per cent of annual growth in the pharmacy industry comes from federal funding for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, off the back of the ageing population.

Under the changes pharmacists would be able to charge dispensing fees less often, with consumers having access to a larger allocation of essential medicines. The change has been welcomed by the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, which represent doctors, because it will save patients money and make medicine rules more convenient.

More than 320 common medicines are covered by the change, including medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, depression and anxiety, osteoporosis, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

General patients will be able save up to $180 a year for a 60-day prescription, while concession-card holders could save as much as $43.80 a year per medicine, according to government forecasts.

Rollout of the plan will commence on September 1, with additional stages in March and September 2024.

On Wednesday Mr Butler rubbished the guild’s “scare campaign” about medicine shortages and job losses, promising to work with the sector to expand local services, including for aged care patients.


Pharmacy Guild president Trent Twomey became emotional on Thursday talking about the revenue hit to his members, alleging Mr Butler “just doesn’t seem to give a shit”.

He said the government should listen to local pharmacists and not spin doctors.

“This is supposed to be a government that cares. This isn’t how one operates,” Mr Twomey said.

Mr Butler warned against taking advice on medicine shortages from lobby groups, rather than health authorities. He said strong arrangements with medicine wholesalers were in place, including taxpayer funding for community service obligations.

“The actual truth is of the 325 medicines that I have announced today, only seven of them are experiencing supply shortages. Shortages which are reflected right across the world and are a product of the impact of COVID supply lines.

“This is not going to change the number of tablets dispensed in a given period of time. It is simply going to mean that people can get two boxes at a time, instead of having to get one box and come back twice as often.”


In August 2018, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee considered the clinical safety and suitability of selected PBS medicines for chronic conditions being available under increased dispensed quantities rules. It recommended an easing of the rules to bring Australia closer in line with comparable countries including New Zealand, the UK, Canada and France.

Mr Butler also criticised Opposition Leader Peter Dutton for opposing a change designed to help address cost-of-living pressures on Australian households.

The Liberal leader appeared in an online video with a local pharmacist this week.

“Many, particularly older Australians, but families as well, really rely on the relationship with their local pharmacist,” Mr Dutton said. “The government’s proposal at the moment is going to make it harder to do that work and have that relationship with their patients.”

Australian Medical Association president Stephen Robson welcomed the changes, saying it could help ease the cost-of-living burden on patients with chronic conditions.

“What we’re talking about here is just a change in the pattern of dispensing. so it shouldn’t have any further effect on the more long-term issues around obtaining medications for Australian patients,” he said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *