Quick remedy for prescription dispute: Government to throw billions at problem

Community pharmacies will receive billions from the federal government as part of a new agreement, bringing a drawn-out dispute over prescriptions to an end.

Mar 14, 2024, updated Mar 14, 2024
Queensland Pharmacy Guild vice-president Trent Twomey. Photo: ABC

Queensland Pharmacy Guild vice-president Trent Twomey. Photo: ABC

A new community pharmacy agreement due to kick in on July 1 will provide $3 billion to the sector.

The agreement follows a year-long dispute between the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the government over Labor’s decision to double the length of prescriptions.

The move to increase prescriptions for more than 300 common medicines from 30 days to 60 days led to protests from the pharmacy sector, which feared community pharmacies would not receive as much in dispensing fees.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the new agreement would improve patient outcomes.

“This agreement ensures Australians will continue to receive cheaper medicines thanks to the Albanese government, including guaranteeing our historic 60-day prescriptions reform into the future,” he said.

“The government recognises the very important role played by community pharmacies and the (agreement) will support them to play an even bigger role in the primary care sector.”

Full details of the agreement are expected to be laid out publicly once the measures are signed off.

Final talks between the government and the Pharmacy Guild are expected to take place before the agreement comes into effect in July.

The guild’s president Trent Twomey said the agreement would allow pharmacies to grow.

“Your guild has always been fully committed to signing a community pharmacy agreement that delivered more affordable medicines to patients while ensuring a vibrant and growing community pharmacy industry,” he told a conference on the Gold Coast.

“The guild will explain to our members and the industry what is included in the agreement, the benefits for patients and the bright future ahead of community pharmacy.”

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