As reported by SBS News on 10 August, a move by the Coalition “to have the Senate strike out the [60-day dispensing] policy with a disallowance motion”, has been delayed meaning the 60-day dispensing (60DD) policy will go ahead as planned from 1 September.
SBS News reports a “second motion to delay the laws” has been lodged by the Coalition, “which will be introduced to parliament after the laws have already come into effect” in September.
Speaking to 6PR Mornings today (10 August) Mark Butler, Minister for Health and Aged Care said: “Halving the cost of medicines for 6 million patients who are on the same medicine, often for decades or the rest of their lives, but currently have to go back to the pharmacy every 30 days […] it’s good for their hip pocket, but also what it does to free up millions of GP consults […] rather than clogging up GP rooms just to get in for a routine repeat script.”
‘Hear our concerns and properly consult with us’
In response to this, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has released a statement calling on the Albanese Government to sit down and properly consult with pharmacists, and commit to an early start date for an eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement (8CPA) over the next three weeks, before the Senate returns on 4 September to consider further disallowance motions.
The Guild says community pharmacists want cheaper medicine for all patients, while also preventing further negative impacts on patients, aged care residents and pharmacies, as a result of unintended consequences from 60DD.
Pharmacy Guild President Professor Trent Twomey says more time is needed to ensure unintended consequences didn’t negatively impact patients and pharmacies.
“All pharmacists want cheaper medicine for their patients and we are ready, willing and able to sit down with the Government and make sensible adjustments to the policy so patients, aged care residents and pharmacists aren’t negatively impacted,” says Professor Twomey.
“We want the Government to hear our concerns, properly consult with us, and commit to an early start date for an eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement, before the Senate considers further potential motions when they return on 4 September.
“Instead of the Labor Party disallowing their own policy today in the Senate, we should be sitting down and getting this policy right for millions of patients and thousands of community pharmacies.
“With more time we can implement a policy that doesn’t force hundreds of pharmacies to close, puts thousands of pharmacy workers out of a job, and increases the cost of services for every aged care resident in the country.”
60DD: the negative consequences
The Guild states that an independent economic report on the Federal Government’s 60DD policy has found the policy, in its current form, will have negative consequences for the delivery of frontline healthcare across the country.
The report conducted by economist Henry Ergas AO, with Tulipwood Economics and Griffith University’s Relational Insights Data Lab, reveals:
- 665 community pharmacies will be forced to close, and a further 900 will be at risk of closing, over the next four years.
- 20,818 workers in community pharmacies will lose their jobs over the next four years.
- Community pharmacies will be forced to cut opening hours by 2.5 hours each day, on average.
- 3597 jobs will be lost in rural and remote community pharmacies over the next four years.
- $4.5 billion will be cut from community pharmacies, and none of the money taken out will be reinvested.
- Free services like blood pressure monitoring, weight checking, home delivery of medicines and asthma monitoring will be cut.
According to the statement released by the Guild, a nationwide survey of 1000 community pharmacies, conducted by the Pharmacy Guild in the past week, shows almost one in four (23%) have reduced opening hours and more than half (54%) have increased fees for services. 250 pharmacy workers have also been made redundant.