HomeHealthBillions for cheaper medicines, but consumer groups wary

Billions for cheaper medicines, but consumer groups wary

Cheaper medicines are on their way, following an agreement between the federal government and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA), in what is being described as a peace deal in the wake of the PGA’s opposition to the 60-day script changes.

Pharmacists instigated a public campaign against the 60-day scripts, designed to cut costs for consumers, when they were announced last year.

The two parties signed off on the Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement (8CPA) yesterday. The deal  is designed to deliver cheaper medicines, improve health outcomes and shore up community pharmacies. But consumer advocates are calling for greater clarity on how much will go towards cheaper medicines and how much will go towards supporting pharmacists.

Billion-dollar announcement

The 8CPA will provide an extra $3 billion for community pharmacies and cheaper medicines.

While the overall funding has been announced, the federal government, the PGA and other stakeholders will now work to hammer out the details, with the agreement expected to be in force from 1 July this year.

Minister for health Mark Butler said the government was committed to improving access to healthcare for all Australians.

“Australians have already saved more than $280 million on their medicine costs since January 2023, thanks to the government’s commitment to cheaper medicines,” Mr Butler said.

“This agreement ensures Australians will continue to receive cheaper medicines, including guaranteeing our historic 60-day prescription reforms into the future.

“The government recognises the very important role played by community pharmacies, and the 8CPA will support them to play an even bigger role in the primary care sector.”

However, the consumer healthcare peak body Consumer Health Forum (CHF) would like more transparency around the agreement such as how much is going towards cheaper medicines and how much is being provided to pharmacists. 

“We know through our consumer survey on community pharmacies that consumers value their local pharmacy, but CHF is mindful that every dollar of taxpayer’s money used to underwrite these essentially private businesses are dollars not directly helping Australians with cost-of-living pressures,” CHF chief executive Elizabeth Deveny said.

Consumer benefit

“It’s really important that when the 8CPA does start, the government makes a strong effort to ensure that the public is educated about what the agreement is and how it will benefit consumers, as well as fully explaining how the extra $3 billion is being spent to benefit consumers.”

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) president Associate Professor Fei Sim welcomed the certainty for community pharmacists and community pharmacy owners.

​“Confidence and certainty are essential for a strong, sustainable community pharmacy network,” Assoc. Prof. Sim said. 

“We congratulate the guild and the government for reaching heads of agreement which will provide confidence to the industry.”

The previous agreement – 7CPA – provided $18.3 billion in funding and will run out in June 2025.

The agreement funded programs such as the Home Medicines ReviewDiabetes MedsCheck and Residential Medication Management. It also funded emergency locum services and training for rural pharmacists.

Do you think private businesses such as pharmacists should be given taxpayer money? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Retirement homes, right choice or rip-off?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

3 COMMENTS

  1. 60 day prescriptions aren’t given out automatically. My GP assesses each to see if that particular condition is stable, have I been on it for some time. So far, out of my many scripts, only one was assessed as suitable for a 60 day script.

  2. Your contributors have exercised clarity and caution when investing, knowing there were many things we had to contribute to. I can say with some certainty that many of our offspring are better off than us. I said many! We have endured and sacrificed at least 70 seasons and now it is time to relax a little. I have seen so many with barely a surviving pension having to go into aged care, using their home as collateral, and given two fifth of five eights to live on. That is not living. Meanwhile our pollies waste Billions on Voices to Parliament, Aboriginal housing (in the wrong place) and other schemes. I notice that many staff who are in our aged care facilities can’t speak english either. Frankly I believe the upper crust are not paying enough (how many BMWs, EVs do you see driving around. And I would recommend an increase in GST to pay for full medical and denta and aged carel. Those retiring can contribute according to their wealth.

  3. Not all prescription medicines are eligible for the 60-day scripts. Doctors have to comply with a detailed government list of medicines approved for the longer dispensing time. Of 4 regular prescribed medications, only 2 of mine qualify for 60 day scripts. Apparently more medications may be added in the future.

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