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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Government witnesses surge in new pharmacy applications, defying fears amidst 60-day dispensing rollout

Health Industry Hub | March 4, 2024 |

Pharma News: An additional 94 medicines for diabetes, epilepsy, breast cancer, and menopause have been added to the 60-day dispensing policy, bringing the total to 184 medicines since the launch of the policy in September 2023. According to the government, this has resulted in cost savings of over $11.7 million and ~3 million 60-day prescriptions.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler MP underscored the positive impact of the policy, stating “Cheaper medicines have helped Australians save time and money with a stable ongoing health condition, so they don’t have to choose between their health and paying the bills.”

Minister Butler, addressing concerns raised by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, revealed that the government has received a surge in applications for new pharmacies since the introduction of 60-day prescriptions – a 50% increase compared to the same period the previous year. This indicates a positive response and counters earlier fear tactics employed by the pharmacy lobby group against the dispensing changes.

Vicki Durston, Director of Policy, Advocacy & Support Services at Breast Cancer Network Australia, emphasised “Allowing these vital drugs to be prescribed for 60-days at a time could save thousands of consumers hundreds of dollars per year. It is especially important that we work to reduce the cost of hormone blocking therapies for breast cancer as some are required for ten years or more after active treatment finishes.

“Reducing the ongoing cost of these drugs will start to address financial toxicity and improve equity, especially for those in lower socioeconomic groups who already experience disparities in access to breast cancer care.”

Acting Group CEO of Diabetes Australia, Taryn Black, lauded the move for individuals managing diabetes, stating, “Expanding 60-day prescriptions lightens the load for people living with diabetes and their families. People living with diabetes could save up to $189 per medicine.”

She emphasised the complex nature of diabetes, with patients often managing multiple medications for various health challenges. The financial burden associated with these prescriptions can be overwhelming, making the policy change a welcomed relief for those facing cost-of-living pressures.

However, it’s essential to note that while many patients are benefiting from the 60-day dispensing policy, there’s a gap in understanding within Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. An incident at Priceline Pharmacy Carlingford in NSW highlighted this, where a CALD patient seeking double dispensing for Lipitor received a double script with additional fees. The pharmacist failed to clarify that the new double dispensing process requires a ’60-day’ script from the GP.

This initiative is poised to benefit an even larger demographic, as a further 100 medicines are set to become eligible on 1 September, providing financial relief and convenience for approximately 6 million Australians.

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