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Professor King says pharmacists are agents of government

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Professor King says pharmacists are agents of government

Pharmacists are agents of government, according to Professor Stephen King, who has apparently delivered his interim remuneration and regulation report to the minister of health.

Agents “by their very nature” have to meet “certain requirements”, such as accountability, Professor King (pictured) told Pharma in Focus, which reported he had delivered the document to the minister.

However, Professor King declined to comment when contacted by  Pharmacy News.

Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office also declined to confirm or deny delivery of the document, but said it would definitely be released by the end of June.

Pharmacy advocates will be able to respond to the interim report.

According to Pharma in Focus, the King review panel sees pharmacists as government agents who safely dispense medicines. This is the point of departure of the interim report.

In an interview with the online newsletter, Professor King debunked  “assumptions” that the premise of the review was “pharmacists are just retailers”, which he said was never the intention.

Pharmacists would welcome the line taken in the review, he said.

 Here is a recap of some key points of the review process.

  • It’s the first independent, comprehensive review of pharmacy in nearly 29 years.
  • It covers remuneration for dispensing PBS medicines, pharmacy regulation and location rules. This includes whether the current dispensing fees and charges are appropriate.
  • The review was agreed to as part of the current pharmacy agreement. One question to be answered is should the Pharmacy Guild be the only party the government negotiates with on pharmacy remuneration.

The interim report was expected three months ago, and delay has been attributed to the ill-health of a review panel member.

The Guild widely criticised Professor’s Kings comments on complementary medicines on national television.

His last-minute decision to pull out of APP in March also riled pharmacists who made their feelings known via Pharmacy News.

While the Guild wouldn’t be drawn on the current speculation, it will likely be reassured by its Budget compact with the federal government.

According to the compact, the government will work with the Guild to ensure the response to the review “maintains the community pharmacy model and secures a viable community pharmacy sector”.

The compact also delivers some surety around location rules. The rules expire at the end of each pharmacy agreement. But the government has promised to legislate so they continue.


 

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