A shake-up to the prescription medicine landscape has been announced today, with the federal government confirming its intentions to double the amount of medication some Australian’s can get from their pharmacists, per script.
Once the new scheme begins in September, patients will be able to obtain 60-days’ worth of their prescription medicine, without paying more than they were previously.
Federal Minister for Health Mark Butler said, in a statement, the change will stop cash strapped Australian’s from having to go without.
“This cheaper medicines policy is safe, good for Australians’ hip pockets and most importantly good for their health,” Mr Butler said.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has criticised the move, citing major concerns over medication supply.
The University of Wollongong pharmacy owner and pharmacist, Vlad Jankulovski, says the system is already in bad shape.
“…since Covid, supply has been a problem, we’re constantly having to juggle and sometimes have to pick between who we can supply to and who we can’t,” Mr Jankulovski said.
Mr Jankulovski is also concerned the provision of two months’ worth of medications at one time could present dangers beyond supply problems.
“Hazards with overdosages, medications getting into the wrong peoples’ hands … there’s that aspect to think about as well,” he said.
He said the decision lacks detail and has not been communicated well enough to practitioners.
“I speak to people who are supposed to be representing us… at a government level and they know as much as I do,” Mr Jankulovski said.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) also weighed in on the issue, with its vice president, Dr Bruce Willett, accusing the the Pharmacy Guild of ‘fear mongering’.
“It’s a total furphy that it’s going to affect supply issues. At the end of the day, people will use the same amount of medications, whether or not they get it in a month’s supply or two months’ supply,” Dr Willett said.
“For the RACGP, it’s a welcome change. We are seeing the entire health system under enormous strain at the moment… so we do need to think about how we do things more efficiently and open up some capacity for the whole healthcare system.”
I spoke to the VP of the @RACGP today and he shared an analogy for the @PharmGuildAus' concerns over the PBS changes.#federalbudget #politics #healthcare #pharmacy #prescriptionmedication #UOWTV @UOWTV pic.twitter.com/uecgAsfzUg
— Patrick Lazarus (@PatrickLazarus4) April 26, 2023
The total cost and details of the PBS overhaul will be outlined in the federal budget, set for release, Tuesday, May 9.