Things would have been so much easier if this was done 12 months ago

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The implementation of 60-day dispensed prescription quantities has been less than ideal. Lower-than-expected uptake has cost Australian patients hundreds of millions during a cost-of-living crisis.

According to the Office of Impact Analysis (OIA) in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which questioned the development and analysis of the planned change, it expected a 45 per cent reduction in 30-day dispensed prescription quantities in the first year.

However, the uptake of 60-day prescription quantities has remained lower than expected since the change was applied to the first tranche of medicines in September last year. The vast majority of qualifying prescriptions are still prescribed at the 30-day quantity.

The new Community Pharmacy Agreement (CPA) includes $2.1 billion for a new Additional Community Supply Support Payment.

The new payment is included in an agreement that explicitly acknowledges the Pharmacy Guild's campaign for compensation for the negative impact of 60-day quantities. The OIA acknowledged this impact at almost $200,000 per community pharmacist each year.

Pharmacies will be compensated and, importantly, from the Government's perspective, will be incentivised to speak with the patients and encourage their adoption of 60-day quantities via an increased handling fee for dispensing these prescriptions.

It would have been much easier for all involved had the Government recognised the need to compensate community pharmacies for the impact of 60-day quantities when the policy was announced. It might have also resulted in more savings for patients.

In response to the new CPA, Better Access Australia (BAA) said it was important that the Government recognise that reform must be done with patients, not to patients.

It said, “From the outset, BAA acknowledged the difficulty the surprise announcement of 60-day dispensing represented to these small business owners whose patients are at the centre of everything they do. It is why we were proud to stand beside them during the advocacy for a more consultative approach to the implementation of this important but poorly negotiated cost of living reform - 60 day dispensing.

“Today, the Government has recognised that health reform must be ‘with us, not to us’."

It was a well-made and salient point.