Friday, 22 Sep 2023

Two-for-one prescription changes to save Australian patients more than $1.6bn

Two-for-one prescription changes to save Australian patients more than $1.6bn


Two-for-one prescription changes to save Australian patients more than $1.6bn

Australia's health minister, Mark Butler, recently announced a significant change that is expected to result in substantial savings for patients over the next four years, amounting to more than $1.6 billion.

Under the new policy, general patients can anticipate saving up to $180 annually for each prescribed medicine, while concessions cardholders will see a benefit of $43.80 per medicine. The decision to implement this change was recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee back in August 2018, and the Australian Medical Association has been advocating for its adoption.

The move has been well-received by the Consumer Health Forum, a leading patient advocacy body, but it may face resistance from pharmacists who will experience reduced government subsidies due to fewer patient visits for medicine dispensing.

The government aims to save money through this initiative by reducing the frequency of GP visits and lowering pharmacy subsidies. Despite offering patients a two-month supply of medicine for the price of one, it assures the public that all savings will be reinvested back into community pharmacies.

As part of this change, GPs will have the discretion to issue a two-month dispensing quantity script, while retaining the option to prescribe a one-month supply if there are any potential risks to the patient's health.

Meanwhile, the Pharmacist Guild of Australia has been pushing for its members to gain the authority to prescribe common medications, following successful pilots in Queensland and trials in New South Wales and Victoria. However, GPs are opposing this measure, leading to a contentious issue in the healthcare landscape.

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