Sixty-day pharmacy script dispensing will be available for the first tranche of medicines from today.
The reform, which has been opposed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, has been welcomed by consumer, health, and doctor groups, who say it will save patients at least $180 a year, and more if they are taking multiple medicines.
The reform doubles the amount of medicines that pharmacists can dispense for stable conditions, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), from 30 to 60 days.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) said the change would bring “immediate benefits for some the most vulnerable people in our community, including people living with chronic and ongoing conditions”.
It will save patients money and mean fewer trips to pick up medicine and repeat scripts, as well as freeing up GP consultations
“It will save patients money and mean fewer trips to pick up medicine and repeat scripts, as well as freeing up GP consultations,” said RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins.
“The change is happening in three stages, and I encourage people who think they may be eligible for 60-day scripts to talk to their GP,” she said.
In this first stage, treatments will be available for 60-day scripts for treatments for patients living with high cholesterol, hypertension, osteoporosis, Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, gout, heart failure, and ulcerative colitis. Once the rollout is complete, over 300 medicines will be available for 60-day scripts.
Sixty-day scripts have been welcomed by Asthma Australia, Breast Cancer Network Australia, the Council of the Ageing, Lung Foundation Australia, and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, meantime, has agreed to suspend its campaign against the reform.
In exchange for earlier good faith negotiations on the next community pharmacy agreement, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said it was suspending its public campaign objecting to the new policy after citing concerns about closures and job losses.
The Pharmacy Guild said it would continue to work with pharmacies that are most impacted by 60-day dispensing to ensure their viability remains intact while negotiations start with the Government, ahead of 1 March 2024.