22 May, 2024
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Pharmacies warn of looming aged-care medicines crisis

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Aged-care residents could see the cost of their medicines go up if planned dispensing changes go ahead as the pharmacy guild urges the federal government to pause the policy.

Under changes due to come into effect from September 1, up to six million people will be able to buy two months’ worth of subsidised medicines with a single prescription, rather than just a one-month supply.

The change would apply to more than 300 medicines, including treatments for conditions such as heart disease, cholesterol, Crohn’s disease and hypertension.

The policy was estimated to save the government $1.2 billion over the next four years, with that money to be reinvested into community pharmacy health programs.

But the peak body representing pharmacies said almost every aged-care resident would be faced with an extra $800 per year cost to have their medicine packed and delivered.

Pharmacy Guild national president Trent Twomey said this was because facilities would need to charge patients for the service because of the 50 per cent cut to pharmacy dispensing funding.

“This will be a crisis for aged care with our most vulnerable Australians forced to pay for a policy change that doesn’t benefit them,” he said.

At the moment, medicines are packed and delivered to aged care residents free of charge as the cost is subsidised by dispensing fees.

But the guild said industry and government data showed the free service cost $15.50 per week for each resident, equating to $806 annually.

– AAP

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