PBS continued dispensing a win for all Australians

Media Release

31 March, 2020

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has today welcomed moves by the Morrison Government to ensure Australians have access to medications through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme during the COVID-19 crisis.

The extension of PBS subsidy access for medicines supplied under emergency provisions follows the initial measure which was implemented during the bushfires in January and was due to expire today.

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, thanked Health Minister Greg Hunt for acting to ensure all Australians have access to critical medicines when they might not have a prescription, or a when a prescriber is unavailable.

“This means pharmacists can continue to support our patients through this health crisis, and they aren’t hit with any additional or unnecessary costs during such a stressful time,” Mr Tambassis said.

The move to allow access through the PBS comes after several jurisdictions allowed patients to access one month’s supply of Schedule 4 (prescription) medication where they had been prescribed that medication previously, and do not have a prescription or are unable to obtain one. The Guild’s view is that these measures should be uniform, national and ongoing.

The Pharmacy Guild also welcomed the announcement that the Government is implementing changes recommended by the Guild to allow community pharmacists to substitute dose strengths or forms of medicines without prior approval from the prescribing doctor, if a medicine is unavailable at the time of dispensing. These changes will allow patients to receive their medicines from their pharmacist immediately.

“In the midst of a health crisis unprecedented in our lifetimes, this will help pharmacists across Australia to manage medicines for patients,” said Mr Tambassis.

“Australians need reassurance we’re on the frontline caring for them. This decision by Minister Hunt means pharmacists have a greater ability to care for our patients.”

The supply of medicines under these arrangements is subject to a strict set of professional guidelines. The patient must previously have been prescribed this medicine and the pharmacist must be satisfied it is urgently needed.

Source: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

NSW pharmacies to open 24/7

Pharmacies [and supermarkets] can now open around the clock in NSW to meet the demand of COVID-19.

“The NSW Government recognises the role of community pharmacists as frontline health workers supporting the community,” Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard said.

“I want to remind the community to not panic buy, not abuse staff, and be respectful of people who hold a very special place on the frontline of our fight to keep the community safe and well,” he said.