MEDIA RELEASE 3 MAY 2018 – Pharmaceutical wholesalers have welcomed support of Australian community pharmacies in the Federal Government’s response to the King review into Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation.
Mark Hooper, Chairman of the National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA), said: “Community pharmacies are trusted advisers in Australia’s health system. It’s important they are protected for the work they do in providing patients with affordable access to medicine.
NPSA welcomes ongoing discussions with Government on future improvements to the entire medicine supply chain, including the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) wholesale model.
“The King Review missed an important opportunity to recommend improvements to the existing community service obligation (CSO), which is a key pillar of Australia’s national critical infrastructure and delivers the Government’s own National Medicines Policy,” Mr Hooper said.
Five pharmaceutical wholesale companies are currently contracted by the Federal Government, through the CSO, to deliver all PBS medicines to consumers. The CSO requires quality standards, including next-day delivery, security and contingency in the event of service interruption, for example flooding or other natural disasters.
Pharmaceutical wholesalers currently distribute about 6,200 PBS items to more than 5,500 community pharmacies and, through them, to millions of consumers throughout Australia, generally within 24 hours. This vital service, that is often taken for granted, enables the dispensing of 295 million scripts annually by Australian community pharmacists.
“Without the efficiencies that CSO wholesalers deliver, Australian consumers could find that access and availability of medicines becomes unreliable, with delays for some products at different times. This inconsistency could raise safety concerns for patients who need guaranteed medicinal availability at short notice,” Mr Hooper said.
“The current CSO distribution model consolidates what would otherwise be an extremely inefficient and fragmented supply chain between more than 500 manufacturers and 5,500 pharmacists.”
Mr Hooper said pharmaceutical wholesalers face deteriorating business conditions that are putting pressure on the sustainability of the current model that serves patients so well by ensuring timely and efficient access to essential medicines.
“The entire medicine supply chain has been squeezed by PBS reform in recent years. As a result, some manufacturers have now entered into monopoly supply arrangements with international courier companies.
“Some of these exclusive agreements only deliver the most profitable medicines to pharmacy. These arrangements undermine the cross-subsidisation model of PBS distribution and could cause the medicine supply chain to splinter along regulated and unregulated lines.
“Ensuring Australians continue to have access to quality, affordable medicines when and where they need them requires certainty throughout the complex PBS supply chain.
“NPSA is asking for a clear regulatory framework across the entire medicine supply chain, including a mandate to ensure all PBS medicines are made available through CSO wholesalers, and a floor price on distribution to ensure the PBS supply chain is sustainable for the long term,” he said.
A copy of NPSA’s position on the Review of Pharmacy Regulation and Remuneration can be found here ENDS
The National Pharmaceutical Services Association represents CSO wholesalers Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, National Pharmacies, Sigma Healthcare and Symbion.
Contact: Apollo Communications Jasmine Hogg +61 (0)422 834 812 jHogg@Apollo.Sydney