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Double the Medicine No Cure for Shortages

A recent poll of 2500 voters across Australia has revealed that more than eight in ten Australians are against the Federal Government’s budget proposal to double the amount of medicine a patient can receive at once if this policy would result in medicine shortages.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Professor Trent Twomey, said millions of patients would be worse off because the proposal guaranteed medicine shortages nationwide.

“If the Federal Government proceeds with this proposal, everyday prescription medicine will be put into severe shortages lasting months, not days or weeks.

“I am very concerned for Australian patients, and big shortages will hit common medicines that treat cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, to name just a few. The research is crystal clear, Australians do not support a policy if it means pharmacy shelves are bare and patients miss out on vital medicine that they need. We are calling on the Federal Government to reconsider.

I don’t want to see a Hunger Games stand-off in any community in Australia where some patients get double the medicine they need while others get nothing

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia wants to work with the Government to deliver cheaper medicine for millions of patients through their proposal to drop the PBS co-payment to $19, helping all Australians in this cost of living crisis.

The poll also found 84 per cent of Australians did not want the proposal to proceed (47 per cent of voters think 60-day dispensing should not go ahead, and another 37 per cent think it should not proceed if it worsens medicine shortages). Regional Australians are also more likely to say 60-day dispensing shouldn’t go ahead if it results in medicine shortages (86 per cent). The proposal to double medicine dispensing will also mean more medications sitting in Australian family homes. According to the Guild, this will increase the risk of accidental overdose, including for children.

The poll found 51 per cent of Australians oppose the plan for 60-day dispensing should it increase the risk of accidental overdose, including for children. This follows the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) interim decision on February 3 2023, to reduce the maximum pack sizes for paracetamol products due to the incidence of serious injury and death from intentional paracetamol overdose and a shortage of paracetamol medication. The research was commissioned by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and conducted by Insightfully on April 6 to April 7, with 2282 people via phone survey in every state and territory.

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