In the federal budget edition of Forefront, the Pharmacy Guild has welcomed confirmation that the government, if re-elected, will provide $245 million over five years to improve consumer access to medicines and support community pharmacies.
The funding includes:
- $215 million over three years from 2020-21 to provide additional remuneration to community pharmacies through increased Administration, Handling and Infrastructure fees on all PBS scripts, which has been partially funded by reallocating funding from 6CPA professional programs.
- $15 million over three years from 2020-21 for additional CSO payments to pharmacy wholesalers.
- $15 million in 2018-19 to promote quality use of medicines by patients through medication management programs in community pharmacy.
- Aligning public and private hospital pharmacy pricing with the community pharmacy pricing arrangements from July 1, 2019.
In addition, as announced and implemented last month, the government says it will improve cashflows for community pharmacies by reducing the nine-to-16-day period it takes to process claims against the PBS to between two and nine days.
This has no impact on the government’s fiscal balance over the forward estimates but will have a $213 million impact on the government’s underlying cash this financial year.
Pharmacy Guild National President George Tambassis welcomed the measures, saying they would assist community pharmacy small businesses to continue serving their patients and employing staff.
The Guild also welcomed the budget decision to introduce an Australian-first PBS-subsidised take-home program for naloxone to help reduce overdose deaths from opioid abuse, saying “this is a $7.2 million commitment which we strongly support”.
This budget featured $331 million for new and amended listings on the PBS, with these including “life-changing” medicines to treat lung, bladder, kidney and skin cancer as well as leukaemia. The Guild says it welcomes these listings, which ensure patients will be able to access these medicines for the general patient co-payment of $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “The Liberal National government has provisioned $40 billion in the forward estimates for life-saving and life-changing medicines. We are averaging 31 new or amended listings per month – approximately one per day.”
Meanwhile, the government’s support of a Canberra trial to partner with community pharmacies in improving quality use of medicines in residential aged care has received strong support.
The Guild says the government recognises that better use of medicines in aged care, including the use of psychotropic medicines, will directly improve the quality of life, care and safety of many senior Australians living in residential aged care.
The Guild says it believes this trial and its outcomes will build on the extensive contribution already being made by community pharmacists all over Australia, as part of the collaborative teams that serve the needs of people in residential aged care.