Budget funding welcome – but pharmacies need more

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has welcomed the government’s commitment to pharmacy in the 2019-20 federal budget through the extension of the AHI fee and reduced Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) wait times.

PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman acknowledged the investment in primary care, aged care and mental health, and the importance of funding for those sectors. But he also says there needs to be more available for pharmacies and their staff.

“Leading into the next Community Pharmacy Agreement, we would expect at least the same level of investment in community pharmacy and pharmacists to improve accessibility of care and health outcomes for all Australians,” he said.

“In a budget that has now returned to surplus, and is projected to be in surplus, we need to have investment in pharmacy and pharmacists across sectors to improve the health of Australians.

“We note the budget announcement to align community pharmacy and private or public hospital pricing arrangements for high-cost medicines. But we remain concerned about the level of hospital-pharmacy services that may be affected by this announcement and the impact this may have on medicine safety and patient care.

“PSA welcomes the government’s announcement of an additional $15 million for pharmacy programs through the sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement to promote quality use of medicines, including further supporting the Dose Administration Aids and MedsCheck programs.

“We’re delighted the government will build on its efforts to reduce prescription opioid use. We welcome the expansion of the Rural Health Outreach Fund to give people better access to pain management specialist services and train providers to improve prescribing habits.

“The announcement of $7.2 million to establish an Australia-first take-home naloxone program is a significant investment in reducing deaths caused by opioids. It is vital for pharmacy to be a key component of this strategy.”