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Public Information Campaign On Dispensing Changes

MEDIA RELEASE
Attention: Health Reporters

16 September 2003


Pharmacists Launch Public Information Campaign On Dispensing Changes

The Pharmacy Guild is using a nationwide newspaper campaign to help prepare the public for the start of three-monthly medicine dispensing next month. Pharmac, the Government’s drug buying agency, has decided to go ahead with its changes to the dispensing rules from October 1. The first Guild advertisement will appear in papers tomorrow.

Guild President, Richard Heslop, said it was important that the public had a good understanding of how the changes might affect them before they received their first pharmacy dispensing under the new rules.

“Pharmac has agreed that doctors and other prescribers will have the final say on whether a patient’s health needs would be best served by monthly or three-monthly dispensing.
This means older people, or those who might have difficulty managing their medicines without the support of a pharmacist will still be able to have monthly or more frequent dispensings. Patients should talk to their doctor and pharmacist about what’s best for them.”

He said doctors would obviously play a vital role in alerting patients to the new system when issuing new prescriptions next month, but there were pharmacy specific aspects of the new rules that could affect how some medicines were dispensed and paid for.

“ For example, convenience was promoted as a key benefit of the new system, but it’s important for patients to understand that if some of their medicines aren’t on the new Pharmac three-monthly list they will still need to be collected monthly. We need patients to know that in advance, and not blame their community pharmacist for not being able to give them all their medicines all at once.”

Mr Heslop said another important detail was that some medicines were only partly government funded, and patients were currently required to pay for the unsubsidised portion. That wouldn’t change, but from October those payments would have to be made ‘up front’ for the medicines dispensed ‘all at once’ instead of the current system where patients could pay in three, monthly instalments.


(Please see copy of newspaper advertisement wording attached)
Changes To Medicine Dispensing - What Will It Mean For You?

Pharmac, the Government’s drug buying agency, has decided to change the present system where most medicines are prescribed and dispensed monthly, to one where many medicines on a special list can be dispensed all at once in three-monthly amounts. Some people already receive their medicines this way under the existing rules, but it will be a new process for most people, so here’s how it might affect you.

- The new system begins from October, and Pharmac says doctors and other prescribers will have the final say on whether your health needs would be best served by monthly or three-monthly dispensing.
- To retain monthly dispensing, the prescriber will simply have to sign and endorse the prescription.
- This means older people, or those who might have difficulty managing their medicines without the support of a pharmacist will still be able to have monthly or more frequent dispensings. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about what’s best for you.
- While convenience was promoted as a key benefit of the new system, it’s important to understand that if some of your medicines aren’t on the new three-monthly list they will still need to be collected monthly.
- Some medicines are only partly government funded. If your medicines include some of those, you are currently required to pay for the unsubsidised portion. That won’t change, but from October those payments will have to be made ‘up front’ for the medicines dispensed ‘all at once’ instead of the current system where you can make those payments in three, one month instalments.
- The change to three-monthly dispensing will reduce pharmacy revenue from dispensing fees by an average of 30%. A significant number of pharmacies will close or amalgamate to ensure continued viability.
- Some community pharmacies may decide it is necessary to introduce some form of patient charges in order to maintain current service levels. These charges would be modest and would mostly involve recouping the costs of services that are currently supplied ‘free’ such as home deliveries and faxed prescriptions.
- If you start receiving all or some of your medicines in three-month lots there will obviously be far greater amounts to store at home. You need to plan how to do that safely by keeping large quantities of medicine well away from young children. Your pharmacist can advise you on medicine home safety and discuss ways of ensuring the best possible disposal of your unused medicines.

Your community pharmacist is a key partner in the primary healthcare team who can help you make informed decisions about getting the best from your medicines.

Ask your pharmacist for advice about what all at once dispensing will mean for you


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