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Pharmacy News: Pharmacy Stories of 2022

February 10, 2023 0 Comments

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.

A sector undergoing structural transition

As we reported back in February 2022, the Pharmacy sector looked on the cusp of significant changes on the back of new players coming into the industry.

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. 

Gorilla Jobs Blog Pharmacy Stories of 2022 Pharmacist and Assistant Behind the Counter On A Phone Call and With Laptop Open In Discussion
Photo by Cottonbro Studio on Pexels

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 priorities for 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.

As early as April 2022, a survey by the PSA revealed medicine shortages were impacting patients. By mid-year, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) highlighted the situation as more dire, with patients going without or cutting back on medication as up to 330 medicines were in short supply, and pointing to the Therapeutics Good Administration (TGA) listing 44 medicines as critically low.

Some medicine supplies have improved, however, a check of the TGA website as of mid-January 2023 shows that there are now 47 medicines listed as being in critical shortage, with a further 10 anticipated.

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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