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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Consumer voice demands transparency on the 8th Community Pharmacy Agreement

Health Industry Hub | March 18, 2024 |

Pharma News: The highly anticipated 8th Community Pharmacy Agreement (8CPA) slated to commence on March 1, 2024, has been delayed. Despite the government’s best intentions to finalise negotiations, the commencement date has been pushed back to July 1.

The delay comes amidst a commitment of an additional $3 billion from the government, announced at the Australian Pharmacy Professionals (APP) conference alongside the pre-contractual Heads of Agreement document.

The journey towards the 8CPA began in September 2023, with the Pharmacy Guild and the Albanese Government engaging in negotiations 15 months ahead of the current agreement’s expiration. To foster what was referred to as “good faith negotiations” with the government, the Pharmacy Guild temporarily halted its aggressive public campaign against the 60-day dispensing policy.

At the recent Estimates, Senator Anne Ruston, Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, voiced scepticism regarding the timelines of the 8CPA, seeking assurances from the government about its ability to meet the originally promised commencement date.

Commenting on the situation, Professor Twomey, President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, stated that negotiations for the finer details of the agreement will continue over the coming weeks. However, the veil of secrecy remains intact, as the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) between the government and the Pharmacy Guild does not expire until June 30.

“Having resolved our differences, the Pharmacy Guild looks forward to working with the Commonwealth government to continue delivering world-class community healthcare to Australian patients,” said Professor Twomey at the APP conference.

Elizabeth Deveny, CEO of the Consumer Health Forum (CHF), highlighted the need for transparency and accountability.

“CHF is mindful that every dollar of taxpayer’s money used to underwrite these essentially private businesses are dollars not directly helping Australian with cost-of-living pressures.

“It’s really important that when the 8CPA does start, the government makes a strong effort to ensure that the public is educated about what the agreement is and how it will benefit consumers, as well as fully explaining how the extra $3 billion is being spent to benefit consumers,” Dr Deveny stated.

The additional $3 billion is just a fraction of the value of the agreement. The funding for pharmacies under the previous agreement is valued at $25 billion over its five-year lifespan.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler MP and his team were conspicuously absent from the APP conference, raising eyebrows. Instead, the keynote address was delivered by Opposition leader Peter Dutton.

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