Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist January 2016 Contents Australian Pharmacist January 2016 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
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Firstly let me wish all PSA members a happy and prosperous New Year.
2015 was a tough one, but each new
year brings its own challenges and 2016
will be no different.
Pharmacists returning to work after the
festive break will need to come to grips
with some of the more challenging
provisions of the Sixth Community
Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA).
The PBS Access and Sustainability
Package included in 6CPA is intended
to generate gross PBS savings of
$6.6 billion over the term of the
agreement through the implementation
of a range of savings measures which
began on 1 July 2015 and were
further augmented on 1 October 2015
The savings measures implemented in
2015 have been quietly bubbling away
in the background without causing any
significant furore and perhaps even
promoting a sense of relief on the part
of those who may be beginning to
believe we have dodges a bullet.
Savings measures in that package will
continue to have effect through 2016
and two measures implemented on
1 January will have those pharmacists
returning after the festive break
wondering what happened to the old
PBS they used to know.
The measure which has generated the
most comment from pharmacists, and
which came into effect on 1 January,
is the discounting of the PBS patient
co-payment by a maximum of $1 per
script on both concessional and general
scripts – a measure PSA has publicly
Community pharmacies will be allowed,
but not mandated, to discount the co-
payment by a maximum of $1 from $6.10
to $5.10 for concessional prescriptions
and from $37.70 to $36.70 for the
maximum general co-payment.
A blanket $1 discount on scripts will
potentially flow directly to the bottom
line and pharmacy owners will try to
mitigate this effect by reducing costs
associated with dispensing, bearing in
mind that discounting of prescriptions
has already impacted on profits over
a period of several years and the
effects of price disclosure has also
If as seems likely, they try to do this by
reducing qualified staff this will have
the effect of increasing workloads
for remaining pharmacists and one
wonders if this will become an issue
affecting patient safety.
Pharmacy owners will need to consider
very carefully how they address this
issue, bearing mind established
guidelines on workloads.
Likewise any pharmacist called upon
to dispense outside the guidelines
needs to remember that the guidelines
are in place for good reason, and that
dispensing errors although not common
can have life changing consequences.
New year new
BY JOE DEMARTE, FPS, NATIONAL PRESIDENT
» NATIONAL PRESIDENT SAYS
Also taking effect on 1 January was the
removal of the PBS subsidy for many low
cost over-the counter (OTC) medicines.
This is another measure to which PSA
has voiced its opposition.
The view has been taken that as these
products can already be purchased
without a prescription, the government
is not getting value for money when
these medicines are dispensed on the
PBS and the Government is required
to bear the cost of the product
Paracetamol is often cited as an example.
A pack of paracetamol can be bought
OTC for $2. However, the price to the
PBS when it is dispensed is closer to $6.
Removing this item from the PBS and
encouraging patients to buy it without
a script implies that there is little or no
value in having it dispensed.
But it remains to be seen whether this is
false economy or not.
Because paracetamol will no longer be
dispensed it will therefore no longer
appear on the patient’s medication
history. Of great concern is the fact that
pharmacists and doctors will be taken
out of the loop and will no longer be
able to assess patient adherence, check
dosages or check for any doubling up of
paracetamol containing products that
the patient may inadvertently be taking.
None of the above data which would
normally have effectively been recorded
in the process of dispensing will be
recorded anywhere, and doctors will
not be able to liaise with pharmacists
effectively on this issue when reviewing
a patient’s medication care.
The key question is therefore – is the
saving to the PBS really value for
money? And, is it worth the loss of this
information and what will the effect of
the delisting be over the longer term?
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