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Pharmacy closures and illegal drugs risks

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokesperson

17 April 2003

Pharmacy closures and illegal drugs risks in dispensing change

The Government's rushed decision to change pharmacy prescriptions will result in pharmacy closures around the country, National says.

Drug buying agency Pharmac wants to change pharmacy dispensing from one month to three-month prescriptions to save money. Three-monthly dispensing was dropped in 1997 because so many drugs were going to waste.

"If this is brought back rural pharmacies who rely on prescription charges fear they will have to close," says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"This cost cutting move is a knee-jerk reaction which hasn't been thought through.

"We only need to look back a few years. There were many reasons why three-monthly dispensing was dropped. Costs and patient safety were the main ones. This Government proposal will see a lot more drugs in the community, creating a risk that they will fall into the wrong hands for the illegal drug trade.

"Patients will also be adversely affected. The drugs will cost them more, and some will lose a subsidy pharmacists give on the packaging of drugs.

"The Government might save money in one area but any savings will be far outweighed by the damage this proposal will do to communities and patients," says Dr Scott. Ends

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