Improved access to scripts: vital to better health

Improved access to scripts is vital to better health and the Consumers Health Forum is concerned at reports that the government has put on hold plans to ease access to medicines.

“We are disturbed by reports in today’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian of a hold on plans that would enable patients to collect two months of scripts in a single visit to a pharmacy,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“The measure would double the number of medications people can take home each time they go to their pharmacists. It would be safe, practical and patient-centred, making an enormous difference to the lives of patients and providing timely and convenient access to medicines for those in greatest need. We strongly urge the Government to reconsider this decision.

“Primary health care access and tackling out-of-pocket costs faced by consumers for even the most basic health care has never been more important. These are the biggest health priorities for this upcoming Budget and Federal Election.

“According to 2018 ABS data, one in twenty-five people delay seeing or did not see a GP at least once due to cost, and one in fourteen delayed getting or did not get prescribed medication due to cost.

“The situation is even more profound when we know that this was more likely for people living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage than those living in areas of least disadvantage. These are the people most likely to have multiple, complex, chronic health conditions and the need for accessible medicines. 

“These are the very people who would greatly benefit from not having to go back to their GP for unnecessary script renewals which can come with a cost if their GP doesn’t bulk bill and when they face other challenges such as poor access to public transport.  

“As a wealthy country there is no excuse for these sorts of statistics. This step is not in the interests of the community and taxpayer, it is clearly putting profits before patients.   

“As a country we pride ourselves on our approach to best practice health technology assessment. It is a worrying state of affairs when evidence-based, expert advice from a body as pre-eminent as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) is not followed.

“We can see no reason for this measure not to proceed. It is supported by the medical community, expert advisers, and consumers. It is also safeguarded by only applying to patients with medication regimes that are well controlled, and whose doctor has made a decision to prescribe the increased pack sizes,” Ms Wells said.    


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Ben Graham

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