From Wesfarmers buying Priceline to medicine supply issues, we look back at what made Pharmacy news in 2022.
Last year saw the Pharmacy sector face various issues and changes, some for the better, some not so.
Here are some of the more critical moments in Pharmacy news in 2022.
Another year of COVID, with Pharmacists helping
The year kicked off managing the tail-end of the first Covid Omicron wave in Australia at a time when many of the more strict Covid compliance rules around travel, movement and work were being revised or lifted.
With Pharmacists still playing a vital role in vaccinations and the distribution of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), which at times were in very short supply, the sector remained under intense pressure to deliver. But it did.
Clearance by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for the Wesfarmers takeover bid of API, meant the retail, chemical, fertiliser, industrial and safety products behemoth brought both Priceline and Soul Pattinson into its corporate fold.
While this hasn’t had any demonstrable effect on pricing or competition, given Wesfarmers retail dominance in other sectors (Officeworks, Bunnings), it’s no wonder that talk of Amazon entering the pharmacy market has completely dried up.
What this buyout by Wesfarmers means for smaller pharmacists also remains to be seen, although there may be longer-term ramifications.
Before the takeover was approved, managing director of Wesfarmers, Rob Scott, said, “The combination of Wesfarmers and API is a compelling opportunity to capitalise on API’s strengths and positioning in these markets while drawing upon Wesfarmers’ capabilities in retail and distribution, our strong balance sheet and our willingness to invest in our businesses for growth over the long-term.”
Watch this space for more information in the near future.
Image-based subscription changes
March saw the phasing out of image-based subscriptions, something that had been a boon during the pandemic but which were deemed no longer necessary, particularly given the widespread roll-out of e-prescriptions.
There were some exceptions to this, and it differed even from state to state, meaning it may have been a little messy at times, with the full phase-out to be completed by March 31, 2023, when hospitals will be the last to offer this service.
PSA appoints new president
The middle of the year saw the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) announce Dr Fei Sims as its new president.
At the annual conference (PSA22) just a month later, Dr Sims laid out her prioritiesfor the year ahead. Hoping to have positive dialogue with the new Labor government about how pharmacists could play an even greater role in the health system, she named her immediate priorities as:
Furthering the PSA’s medicine safety agenda
Implementing the On-site Aged Care Pharmacist Program
Integrating community pharmacists into primary healthcare
Improving pharmacist remuneration, and
Driving workforce capability.
Medicine supply issues
Across the entire year but most notably towards the latter half of 2022, pharmacists and their patients began experiencing medicine supply shortages.
While there will always be some shortages for a variety of reasons, until global manufacturing and logistics chains get back to pre-pandemic levels, the issue of medicine shortages could hang over pharmacists and their patients for some time to come.
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