‘They just don’t care’: Pharmacy Guild President’s emotional outburst over prescription reforms

Apr 28, 2023
Source: Getty Images.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia President Trent Twomey has criticised the Albanese government’s plan to double the amount of medication a person can collect with each prescription.

In an emotional statement, the leader expressed frustration over the government’s lack of concern for the impact on small businesses, stating that “they just don’t care”.

The Australian government recently announced the initiative to reduce the cost and inconvenience of obtaining prescription medication for millions of Australians.

Commencing on May 1, 2023, over 300 prescription medications will be available at half price in the hopes of making it easier and cheaper for those with chronic conditions who spend a lot on medication.

Medicines for conditions such as heart disease, cholesterol, Crohn’s disease, and hypertension will be included in the new policy, which is expected to deliver budget savings by reducing patients’ visits to the GP to obtain the common medicines they need.

Patients will also be able to buy a two-month supply of subsidised medicines on a single prescription, instead of two separate ones. Those who receive medications prescribed for 60 days rather than 30 days could save up to $180 a year, with additional savings for other qualifying medications.

The move has been widely welcomed by healthcare professionals and patient groups, who have long advocated for greater access to affordable prescription medications.

However, Twomey clearly felt differently about the changes, becoming visibly emotional while discussing pharmacists who were facing bankruptcy due to the sweeping changes.

Although the policy is tipped to save the government $1.2 billion in dispensing fees over a four-year period, which has also been earmarked for reinvestment into community pharmacies, Twomey could not be swayed.

“So what Butler was saying about ‘we’re reinvesting all the money’, that’s just the savings he’s having,” Twomey told reporters on Wednesday.

“He [Butler] only wants to give back 1.2 [billion] because that’s what the taxpayer’s funding.

“But the pharmacist is wearing the complete rest of the cut, and that’s what’s gonna send these guys to the wall. And he just doesn’t seem to give a s**t.

“I’m a North Queenslander, I don’t mean to swear, but they just don’t care.

“You know, this is supposed to be a government that cares. This is not how one operates.”

Despite Twomey’s reservations, Australian Health Minister Mark Butler has highlighted the importance of the new policy, stating that it will address the issue of Australians delaying or going without necessary medication due to the cost.

He emphasised that nearly a million Australians are forced to delay or go without a medicine recommended by their doctor every year, making the policy a crucial measure in improving access to affordable medication.

“Cheaper medicines is good for the patient’s health and the hip pocket. I have said a number of times that the Bureau of Statistics says that as many as almost one million Australians go without medicine or defer getting a script filled because of cost,” Butler said.

“Dropping the price of medicines is better for patients’ compliance with their medicines that their doctor has prescribed as important for their health.”


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