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27 Aug 2019

Doctor ownership of pharmacies dispensing from general practice is a model the AMA wants the Federal Government to consider.

Such a model follows world’s best practice and enhances patient convenience and access.

“It’s also about improving health outcomes,” said AMA President Dr Tony Bartone.

“And that’s what the evidence has shown right around the world, when all members of a healthcare team work in collaboration together with the patient, with their file, with their records, with their history all together in the one location.

“It’s what happens now in a ward round in hospital, where you get all the team members coming around, doing the ward round. The pharmacist is a member of that team. That’s not what happens in the community.”

To this end, the AMA has formed a new General Practice Pharmacy Working Group to drive policy, strategy, and advocacy on pharmacy and dispensing, and to provide the Government with strategic AMA general practice input to the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement.

The Working Group was created following an urgency motion passed at the last meeting of the AMA Federal Council.

Dr Bartone said the community was missing out because of archaic pharmacy ownership rules and pharmacy location rules.

“Evidence would suggest that this is the last remaining cartel in the community that needs to be looked at in terms of anti-competitive practices,” Dr Bartone told 3AW.

“Many eminent economists and regulators have suggested that it’s time to remove the restriction on pharmacy ownership and co-location rules… The patients and members of the community are missing out and they’re left suffering with lack of access to more competitive practices and the convenience and access. So, I’d suggest that at the moment it might be changing.”

The new Working Group will consult with the AMA Council of General Practice to develop an advocacy blueprint on new dispensing models.

Currently, some pharmacists are working as non-dispensing pharmacists in general practice. Known as GP pharmacists, they cannot dispense.

Dr Bartone said it was time to consider taking it to the next level.

“The AMA has long called for the Commonwealth pharmacy regulations to be amended to enable pharmacies and medical practices to be co-located,” he said.

“The AMA supports high-quality primary health care services that are convenient to patients, enhance patient access, and improve collaboration between health care professionals.

“Co-location of medical and pharmacy services would clearly facilitate this.

“The AMA also wants to see State and Territory pharmacy regulations changed to allow broader ownership of pharmacy businesses. The AMA wants to see an end to pharmacies only being owned by pharmacists.

“Incorporating pharmacy services into general practice, under the ownership of a medical practitioner, would improve patient care by allowing GPs to lead a team of co-located health professionals in providing multidisciplinary health care to patients at the local community level.

“Many general practices already provide co-located services with pathology collection centres, and in-house psychologists, physiotherapists, dieticians, and podiatrists. Adding pharmacy to the mix would have benefits for patients, pharmacists, and GPs.”

With negotiations for the Seventh Pharmacy Agreement now underway, there is an opportunity for the AMA to inform the Government how it could increase competition in the pharmacy space, provide pharmacists with improved opportunities for working to their scope of practice within general practice, and safely deliver patients more convenient access to prescribed medicines.

“It is important that all key stakeholders have input to the next Pharmacy Agreement,” Dr Bartone said.

The AMA Federal Council’s urgency motion reads:

Federal Council resolves to form a General Practice Pharmacy Working Group which will consult with AMACGP to develop an advocacy blueprint for the next Federal Council meeting regarding new dispensing models, including doctor ownership of pharmacies dispensing from general practice, which will offer patients enhanced convenience, safety, and quality care in their access to medications.


Published: 27 Aug 2019