13 May, 2014
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is concerned about the impact the increased PBS co-payments will have on patients, particularly those with chronic conditions taking multiple medicines.
These changes will mean that the role of pharmacists in advising patients about the importance of taking their medicines as prescribed will become even more important.
This significant increase in co-payments means that the role of the community pharmacy network, and pharmacists as medication managers, will be even more critically important and needs to be properly remunerated in the next pharmacy agreement.
Investing in the pharmacy network and in the quality use of medicines means better outcomes for patients, fewer hospitalisations, and elderly patients being able to live longer in their homes.
The last time there was a sharp increase in the concessional co-payment – in 2005 – a major study in Western Australia found significant decreases in the use of some prescription medicines by pensioners. As the researchers concluded: “Higher co-payments reduce the cost burden to government, but may have unintended negative effects if costs are generated elsewhere in the health system through increased hospitalisations or doctors’ visits due to omission of medicine. …Policy makers should be aware that increasing the cost of medicines to patients can impact the utilisation of medicines, particularly among vulnerable groups.”
The Budget has also confirmed the massive savings that the Government is making from PBS reforms in each of the next four financial years. These estimates are $2.1 billion in 2014-15; $2.4 billion in 2015-16; $2.6 billion in 2016-17; and $2.8 billion in 2017-18. This demonstrates the massive contribution that the medicines sector and community pharmacies are making to the ongoing sustainability of the PBS.
These savings have a direct impact on pharmacy remuneration through lower Government funding of medicine mark-ups and reduced trading terms.
The Pharmacy Guild is disappointed that despite these massive savings the Government has not seen fit to ameliorate any of the $149 million impact on community pharmacy in 2014-15 of the pre-election changes to price disclosure, which were announced without consultation and in breach of the Community Pharmacy Agreement.
The Guild will continue its fight for this unfair impost to be redressed, including in the negotiation of the next Community Pharmacy Agreement.