Media Release: Cheaper Medicines, but at what Cost?

The Coalition strongly supports Australians having access to cheaper medicines.

We support 60-day dispensing.

However, the Albanese Labor Government needs to appropriately consider the flow-on impacts of their implementing this policy. 

The Government did not adequately consult with community pharmacists before they announced this policy.

The Government did not model the impacts on patients’ access to community pharmacy services.

Labor’s approach will rip billions of dollars from small Australian businesses and risk the most vulnerable Australians paying more for their healthcare.  

This is about resolving legitimate concerns that have been raised about the impact that unconsulted policy could have on patients and communities.

The Opposition has been calling on the Government to provide a guarantee that this measure will not harm the viability of community pharmacies or the patients they care for.

Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston said that the Coalition has genuinely listened to the concerns of patients and pharmacists who this change will impact.

“There are legitimate concerns that Labor’s approach to 60-day dispensing could see community pharmacies close down and result in vulnerable Australians paying more for their healthcare,” Senator Ruston said.

“The Government must get this right – and so far, they have shown no ability to do so.

“Otherwise, there will be significant and foreseeable risks for Australians who need support, particularly people in rural and regional communities, aged care residents, and patients with chronic diseases,” Senator Ruston said.

Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie said there was particular concern for rural and regional communities and their local family-run pharmacies who will be disproportionately harmed.

“Local pharmacists are vital to regional communities. People of all ages and abilities in rural and regional Australia rely on their local pharmacists as they’re often the only primary care professional in town. 

"Pharmacists are such highly regarded members of local communities.

“For the Government to risk regional towns losing this pivotal member of the community is completely disheartening.

“Labor needs to fix the mess they have created by their own lack of consultation,” Senator McKenzie said.

The Coalition is calling on the Albanese Labor Government to delay the introduction of this measure and instead negotiate a new Community Pharmacy Agreement that incorporates 60-day dispensing and addresses the flow-on impacts.

We are calling on Labor to honour its pre-election commitment to ensure that “the current community pharmacy agreement includes reforms that do not negatively impact on either the viability of community pharmacies or patients access to community pharmacy services."

Implementing 60-day dispensing through a new CPA will ensure that the Government can get this change right and mitigate the risks for patients, communities, and small businesses.

If the Government does not accept this sensible action, the Coalition  intends to move to disallow the 60-day dispensing instrument to allow for better outcomes for Australian patients.

During the last election, the Prime Minister promised that “if I ever do make a mistake, I’ll put my hand up. I’ll own it. I’ll take responsibility, and I’ll set about fixing it”. We are asking the Prime Minister to pause this policy to get it right so it doesn’t end up costing patients more.


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