PSA challenges consumer coalition

Aug , 20  2013

Reference :

Misinformation being spread by a coalition of groups purporting to represent consumers has been challenged by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

The coalition, comprising the Consumer Health Forum, ACOSS and Choice, claims the pharmacy profession is trying to get the Government to back away from price disclosure which is providing cheaper medicines for consumers.

This is completely untrue.

Acting National President of PSA, Joe Demarte, said the pharmacy profession has   agreed with the Government to the processes surrounding price disclosure and these are already resulting in cheaper medicines for consumers.

Mr Demarte said it was disappointing that the consumer groups seemed to be singling out pharmacists who provide a pivotal health service for the community.

“I am at a loss as to why anyone would seek to put community pharmacists out of business when these are the very professionals who help manage and improve the health outcomes of all Australian consumers,” Mr Demarte said.

“The issue over price disclosure is that the Government has broken an existing contract with the pharmacy profession and has unilaterally accelerated the process to a level which is unsustainable for the pharmacy profession and this will see an extra $835 million loss to community pharmacies over four years.

”This will result in the loss of programs and services that pharmacies cross subsidise through dispensing.

“It may also result in staff losses and perhaps even closure of some pharmacies, especially in one-pharmacy country towns, where such closure would be catastrophic.

“We all want cheaper medicines but the process must be managed in a way that not only provides cheaper medicines for consumers but also does not damage pharmacy’s ability to provide medicines equitably across Australia.

“The pharmacy profession has worked constructively with the Government on price disclosure to bring down the cost of medicines but this latest imposition was enacted unilaterally without consultation.”

Mr Demarte said Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme was the envy of the world and successive governments have recognised the benefits of enabling access for consumers to heavily subsidised medicines through agreements with the pharmacy profession.