This year the pharmacy profession face many significant challenges, which will have a major impact on how pharmacy operates into 2011 and beyond.
After some “argy-bargy” in Parliament, the Government’s Memorandum of Understanding with Medicines Australia was passed and of particular concern to pharmacy are the price disclosure provisions which will have a negative impact on pharmacy revenue in two years’ time.
The Government has estimated savings from this disclosure to come in at about $3 billion but the generics medicines industry has done its own calculations and arrived at a figure of double that.
Either way this money has to come from somewhere and the bottom line is that it is pharmacy’s revenue that will be hit.
Coming on top of that was the decision by Pfizer to pull out of wholesaling, which immediately raised concerns that the margin to pharmacists offered by other wholesalers would be cut; a fear confirmed when API announced it was doing just that.
This is an ongoing trend and serves to reinforce PSA’s message that returns from dispensary are under continuing pressure and we must look to alternative sources of revenue which are service based, not product based.
This message was explicit in PSA’s stance over the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement during which we successfully fought for a greater focus on remunerated professional services.
As we end 2010, the focus has shifted on to ensuring that the funds we fought for under the Agreement are in fact used. The Government has indicated there can be no rollover of funds from one year to the next, even if they have been allocated for an ongoing program. This is not a satisfactory situation and PSA is pushing hard to ensure new programs are quickly ready for implementation and allocated funds are being used for their intended purpose.
Much of what we see as essential to the future of pharmacy was contained in PSA’s Issue Paper – The Future of Pharmacy which is seeking a holistic view of where we must head as a profession; not only for pharmacy but for the wellbeing of consumers as well. This continued to be progressed during the year with strong support from all areas of the profession.
High among our priorities is broadening the role of pharmacists and having pharmacists recognised as pivotal to the collaborative health-care model on which the whole health-reform debate is predicated.
These are but a few of the many issues which PSA has confronted during the year.
However, an underlying theme has been the need to recognise that the way we have been doing business for many, many years is changing and we must adapt to the change. This involves a fundamental shift from a dispensary financial model to a service model being the foundation for pharmacy remuneration. 2011 will no doubt see a lot more work being undertaken in this area.