In a recent development, the Australian Federal Government has unveiled the initial list of medicines that are set to become eligible for 60-day dispensing.
Pending the legislation in the Senate next month, we wanted to provide an update from our previous article on the introduction of the 60-day dispensing policy in Australia, and to provide an overview of the first stage of this policy.
The First Stage of the 60-Day Dispensing Policy
The first stage of the 60-day dispensing policy includes 92 medicines for a wide range of conditions. These conditions encompass cardiovascular disease, Crohn’s disease, gout, heart failure, high cholesterol, hypertension, osteoporosis, and ulcerative colitis. The inclusion of these medicines in the policy could potentially make them eligible for extended dispensing as early as September.
Impact of the Policy
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler has stated that the changes brought about by the 60-day dispensing policy will significantly reduce the cost of medicines for millions of Australians, including pensioners and those living with a chronic condition. The government anticipates that the policy will alleviate the financial burden of medication for nearly a million Australians who are often forced to delay or forego necessary medicines due to cost constraints.
Opposition and Support for the Policy
The 60-day dispensing policy has faced opposition from pharmacy owners, with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia expressing concerns that it could lead to medicine shortages, pharmacy closures, and significant job losses.
On the other hand, the policy has garnered support from various health organizations and consumer groups. The Consumer Health Forum (CHF) Australia, for instance, has emphasized the benefits of the policy for consumers, including cost savings, reduced travel time, and improved medication adherence. The CHF, along with the RACGP, the Heart Foundation, the Lung Foundation, Breast Cancer Network, and all major doctors’ associations, including the Rural Doctors Association, and the AMA, have publicly endorsed the 60-day dispensing policy.
Future Stages of the Policy
If the legislation passes, the government plans to make more than 300 medicines eligible for extended dispensing. The implementation of this policy will occur in three stages over 12 months, starting from 1 September. The government estimates that Medicare card holders purchasing just one of the medicines impacted by the change could save up to $180 every year, while concession card holders could save $43.80 a year for each eligible medicine.
To summarise, the introduction of the first stage of the 60-day dispensing policy marks a significant step in the Australian government’s efforts to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for its citizens. As we continue to monitor the progress of this policy, we remain committed to keeping you updated on the latest developments and their implications for the healthcare sector.