Nearly 100 medicines added to 60-day dispensing list

Michelle Wisbey

4/03/2024 3:36:10 PM

Treatments for diabetes, epilepsy, breast cancer, and menopause are among those now eligible for a longer prescription.

Male pharmacist standing among shelves of medicine
Almost three million 60-day scripts have been written since the initiative went live in September.

GPs can now write a 60-day script for an additional 94 medications, as the second stage of the cheaper medicine initiative kicks off.
The second stage officially began on 1 March, with a total of 184 medications now available to patients on a 60-day prescription.
The addition includes treatments for androgen deficiency, arthritis, breast cancer, bipolar disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, incontinence, menopause, migraine, prostate cancer, and prostate enlargement.
A full list of eligible medications is available on the Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC) website.
According to DoHAC, patients have saved $12 million on almost three million 60-day scripts since the reform was introduced last September.
The change has allowed those without a concession card to save up to $189 per medicine, per year, and pensioners and concession cardholders to save $46.20.
The third and final stage of the scheme’s rollout will take place on 1 September and see a further 100 medications added, bringing the total to almost 300.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins welcomed the additional medications and said the initiative has already proven popular among patients.
‘It will be the people with the biggest cost burden who will most likely benefit the most from this,’ she told newsGP.
‘Patients have been highly supportive and have been asking for their 60-day scripts and it’s been a very simple, very easy transition.
‘It’s been especially important for patients who struggle with access or mobility issues, or our rural and regional patients, because it means they don’t have to be going to the pharmacy all the time to be picking up medication.’
The program’s second stage is of most benefit to patients living with diabetes, with several new medications added, including dapagliflozin (sold as Forxiga) and metformin.
Diabetes Australia Acting Group CEO Taryn Black said for those living with the often-complex condition, the high cost of medication can be a ‘significant burden’.
‘As the cost of these medicines pile up, we often hear from people about how hard it can be to pay for all of these prescriptions, particularly as they struggle with cost-of-living pressures,’ she said.
‘This change will save people time and money on their medicines, every time they fill a script.’
The allowance of 60-day scripts has long been supported by the RACGP, but the initiative faced a fierce campaign from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia when it was debated in Parliament last year.
Despite that opposition, the Government said it has received 87 applications to open new pharmacies since 60-day prescriptions were announced, 50% more than were received in the same period the year before.
‘This has been of huge benefit to patients without the adverse outcomes that had been predicted by the Pharmacy Guild,’ Dr Higgins said.
‘There have been some concerns raised around the term “stable” by pharmacists, but this is a clinical decision that GPs make.
‘We’ve seen patients who are saving money and are incredibly satisfied.’
DoHAC has confirmed prescribing software will be automatically updated and included medicines will have an additional PBS item code for 60-day prescriptions, as well as the current code for 30-day prescriptions.
An updated information kit for prescribers is now available to include the new medications.
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Dr Michael Charles Rice   5/03/2024 8:32:43 AM

Might save pensioners and concession cardholders $46.20 per medicine per year UNLESS the pharmacist starts charging a fee for Webster-packing (which they are entitled to do)

My local pharmacists have pointed out that they may Webster-pack at no cost to the patient courtesy of the dispensing fee on each 30-day script. It gets complicated, then, trying to figure out the best deal for the Webster-packed patient on multiple medications (I'm not sure I can rely on a pharmacy assistant to calculate it, given some of them still might think the 'delay' in reaching safety net is an issue)

Dr Anthony Stephen Young   5/03/2024 6:09:33 PM

None of the pharmacists in my area have provided Webster packs for free.

Dr Lynette Dorothy Allen   10/03/2024 4:52:28 PM

Does not save people with no cards anything as the pharmacist just charges double a single script cost. This occurred at a pharmacy in Sydney and where I live in rural NSW. Maybe if $31.60 pharmaceuticals are on 60 day dispensing it may be different but none of mine are on the list.