Government consults on pharmacy industry

The independent Panel for the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation has released their Discussion Paper on the role of pharmacies and is seeking feedback.

The Turnbull Government wants Australians get the best experience possible from community pharmacy and wants to hear from the entire pharmaceutical supply chain – including consumers – on how to deliver it.

The independent Panel for the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation has released their Discussion Paper, with formal consultations and submissions to take place over the next two months.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley said the Review was looking at everything from important community obligations performed by pharmacists regarding the handling and dispensing of prescription medicines through to regulation and their expanding role in providing patient primary care, such as blood pressure checks and routine vaccinations.

During July, August and September 2016, the Panel will undertake a national public consultation process. This will be extensive and will include public forums in each state and territory (including metro and regional centres), briefings at industry conferences and a public interactive live broadcast.

The Panel is keen to hear the thoughts and perspectives of all interested parties. All submissions to the Discussion Paper received before the closing date of 23 September 2016 will be reviewed and considered by the Panel.

The Discussion Paper and details on how to respond are available on the Review’s webpage.

The Consumers Health Forum welcomed the discussion paper on the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation and the emphasis it places on identifying consumer needs.

“The review panel states that the review is “primarily a consumer-focused review that aims to identify which services and programs consumers value from community pharmacy,” the Chief Executive Officer of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“We have advocated a strengthened and wider role for pharmacies in primary care generally, but particularly how this can occur in an integrated way with general practice and the Government’s wider plans for primary health care reform.

“A central issue over the years has been whether the agreement for community pharmacy, now costing $20 billion over five years, should remain the preserve alone of the Government and the Pharmacy Guild, representing owners of pharmacies.

“These arrangements have been associated with the continued maintenance of the location rules widely viewed as anti-competitive and a potential barrier to consumer focused service development and innovation, and with significant issues concerning the funding of pharmacy as found by the Australian National Audit Office.

“It is a matter of good public policy that we can now review why such an important sector as community pharmacy should be protected from significant change to improve outcomes for consumers.”

A recent Canstar Blue survey of 2,873 Australian adults found that pharmacists enjoy a very high level of public trust, with 94% of the respondents stating that they trust the advice they receive from pharmacists. 83% of respondents said that they would rather buy medicines at a pharmacist than at a supermarket.

When asked what they were looking for when visiting a pharmacy, the responses were:

Canstar Blue survey on what people are looking for in a pharmacy

Source: Canstar Blue survey, July 2016

  • The cheapest prices 41%
  • The best range of products 23%
  • Good customer service 33%
  • Other 3%

Responding to the release of the Discussion Paper, the peak national body for pharmacists, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), has welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation.

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