Local pharmacists are concerned their viability is at stake, as a proposal looks to extend the 30-day dispensing policy for patients on regular medication.
The proposal, put forward by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, (PBAC) was first introduced in August last year and considered doctors to be given the choice to prescribe larger medicine quantities of approximately 60 days’ supply for some patients who have chronic stable conditions.
This was subsequently shut down before the Federal Election.
The Federal Government is now reconsidering the proposal and its convenience and financial benefits.
However, local pharmacists believe this is the beginning of the end for them and their ability to closely monitor their patients.
“This proposal is just to help the government save money but this will come at the expense of the relationship and time we spend with people and if they can’t come to us then they’ll have to go to a GP or Emergency Department where the waiting times are already blowing up,” Morris Care and Advice Pharmacy owner, Veronica Nou said.
Ms Nou spoke of a time she was seeing a man with red eye issues, who was identified and subsequently diagnosed with early stage myelodysplastic leukaemia and saved because of quick and effective intervention.
St Marys Healthsmart Pharmacy owner Haidar Allbadi believes it is a push towards corporatisation and said it will destroy small, community pharmacies.
“The estimated average loss per pharmacy if this proposal is brought into place is about $85,000 per annum, us local pharmacies will die and it will be a monopoly from the big name companies,” he said.
State Londonderry MP Prue Car met with pharmacists from Oxley Park, Colyton and St Marys last week to discuss the impact this proposal may have.
“There’s always a big temptation from all levels of government to save money but it is illogical to move people’s interactions away from pharmacists when our local health services are already struggling,” she said.
Lindsay MP Melissa McIntosh said the Federal Government won’t implement the proposal without extensive consultation with consumers, the medical community and the pharmacy sector.
“This proposal would allow clinicians to exercise greater choice and provide patients both financial and convenience benefits,” she said.
“Prescriptions for smaller quantities could still be prescribed for patients as clinically appropriate, avoiding medicine wastage and supporting closer clinical monitoring of patients where required.”
Ms McIntosh encouraged local pharmacists to meet with her to discuss their concerns.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.