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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

MP advocates for changes to prescribing rules

Health Industry Hub | March 31, 2023 |

Pharma News: A simple change could have a big impact on the average Australian who takes long-term medicines for chronic disease management.

Independent MP Dr Monique Ryan has extended her support of Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) push for changes to prescribing and dispensing of medicines. She is calling on the government to allow doctors to prescribe 12 month’s supply of medications instead of 6 months and for pharmacists to fill a two-month supply instead of a one-month supply.

Dr Ryan called on the government to implement these changes in Parliament this week.

“In 2018, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) identified 143 commonly prescribed medications which could safely be prescribed for two months at a time for up to 12 months on a single prescription. Many peak bodies supported this suggestion. Faced with powerful lobby groups, the last government lacked the courage to put it into effect.

“I call on this government to affect that change to take pressure off our GPs and to reduce the cost of medications for all Australians living with chronic diseases. We know that the cost of medications is a key reason for many Australians delaying or failing to fill prescriptions. Time spent away from work for GP visits and trips to the pharmacist impacts productivity,” she said.

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has similarly asked for the proposed changes to prescribing amounts.

But Federal Health Minister Mark Butler will be facing resistance from pharmacists who would lose income under the scheme. They have vowed to oppose it, saying the current system strikes the right balance between convenience and safety.

One of many consumer comments on Twitter highlighted the challenges of the current health system and the real world impact on patients. “Reducing the number of pharmacy visits is great for those who are housebound, have disabilities or are immunocompromised as every trip to a pharmacy swarming with unmasked people is dicing with death.”

AMA President Professor Steven Robson said “The failure to implement this independent recommendation is costing both patients and the taxpayer. This is one simple change that could be introduced tomorrow that would improve access to medicines while maintaining safety.”

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