Community pharmacy integral to health system, changes need broad debate

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Community pharmacy integral to health system, changes need broad debate

The Government’s 2015-16 Budget announced tonight has provided some piecemeal approaches to contain the cost of medicines.

Timely access to the medicines that Australians need, at a cost individuals and the community can afford, is one of the central objectives of the National Medicines Policy. However, the overall aim of the Policy is to improve health outcomes for all Australians, and budget measures should reflect consideration of the other central objectives, including that medicines be used judiciously, appropriately, safely and efficaciously.

While the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) recognises that community pharmacy is an integral part of the infrastructure of the health care system in its role in primary health care, the Community Pharmacy Agreements negotiated between the Australian Government and the Pharmacy Guild have only seen incremental changes to arrangements every 5 years since 1991.

“It is time to take a fresh look at what Australians need now and in the future,” says Alison Verhoeven, AHHA Chief Executive.

“With automated dispensing, postal distribution and 24-hour access to information, public needs are changing. Agreements do not need to be built around the physical process of supply through a pharmacy. Rather, the value is with the pharmacists’ role in helping patients use their medicines to get the best health outcomes, and this is where the discussions should start.

“Advances in health and technology are occurring rapidly, and the Government needs to ensure they are not entering into Agreements that are restricting innovative and flexible approaches to health service delivery.

“We are not proposing that there is a quick fix, but incremental changes over 25 years have not kept up with the pace of changing public needs. The value that pharmacies and pharmacists offer needs to stop being considered in isolation to the rest of the health system.

“We call on Government to investigate measures to support the sustainability of the PBS, and the broader health system in Australia, with integrated and coordinated health systems and funding approaches,” says Ms Verhoeven.


The AHHA represents Australia’s largest group of health care providers in public hospitals, community and primary health sectors and advocates for universal high quality healthcare to benefit the whole community.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, 0403 282 501