What’s been included in the first stage of 60-day dispensing?

Matt Woodley

26/06/2023 4:03:37 PM

Ninety-two medicines could become eligible for extended dispensing as early as September.

Drug blister packs.
This first stage includes 92 medicines for a wide range of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, heart failure, osteoporosis and ulcerative colitis.

The Federal Government has unveiled the initial list of medicines set to become eligible for 60-day dispensing, should the legislation make it through the Senate next month.
This first stage includes 92 medicines for a wide range of conditions, including: 

  • cardiovascular disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • gout
  • heart failure
  • high cholesterol
  • hypertension
  • osteoporosis
  • ulcerative colitis.
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler revealed the list last Friday, saying that the changes will ‘halve the cost of medicines for millions of Australians’, including pensioners and those living with a chronic condition.

‘Every year, nearly a million Australians are forced to delay or go without a medicine that their doctor has told them is necessary for their health,’ he said.
‘The Government is delivering cheaper medicines through 60-day dispensing for more than six million Australians … [and] continues to work with all parts of the pharmacy sector on the implementation of this policy.’
Extended dispensing has been strongly opposed by pharmacy owners since the policy was announced in April, with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia claiming it will lead to medicine shortages, pharmacy closures and tens of thousands of job losses.
However, Minister Butler has described these warnings as a ‘scare campaign’, while Consumer Health Forum (CHF) Australia CEO Elizabeth Deveny also recently hit back at the claims.
‘There’s been a lot of misinformation circulating that is concerning consumers unnecessarily, but the bottom line is that 60-day scripts are good for the health of Australians, as well as their hip pocket,’ she said.
‘In addition to saving money, which is so important with the current cost-of-living pressures, consumers will also save time and travel costs. This is especially important for consumers who live in rural and remote communities who often have to travel hundreds of kilometres to the nearest pharmacy.
‘Having a greater supply of medication on hand should also lead to more people taking their medicines as prescribed and this has been proven to lead to better health outcomes.
‘For all these reasons, what we are hearing loud and clear from Australian health consumers is that the move to 60-day scripts is a very welcome change.
‘Australian pharmacies already do much more than just dispense medicine and the Government is supporting our trusted pharmacists to play an even bigger role in the healthcare of Australians.’
CHF has also established a new ‘60-day scripts’ website with further information for consumers, which links to an open letter recently sent to all MPs urging them to support the policy.
In addition to the CHF and RACGP, 60-day dispensing has drawn public support from the Heart Foundation, the Lung Foundation, Breast Cancer Network, and all major doctors’ associations, including the Rural Doctors Association, and the AMA.

The Government estimates that Medicare card holders buying just one of the medicines impacted by the change will save up to $180 every year, while concession card holders will save $43.80 a year for each eligible medicine.
Should the legislation pass, more than 300 medicines will eventually become eligible for extended dispensing, with the implementation coming in three stages over 12 months, starting 1 September.

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