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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : March 2005
editorial from the editor email@example.com EDITORIAL AND EALTH Minister Tony Abbott called me when this March edition was all but out the door and on its way to the printer. Mr Abbott called in response to my request for answers to several questions relating to issues of the day, including a proposal that would encourage discounting on prescription copayments, the Government turn-around on its mandatory generics price reduction policy, and the AMA’s double-barrelled attack on the pharmacy profession. The Minister responds H The Minister told me that he did not understand why there was a legislative barrier that stopped pharmacists from delivering customers with discounts on their copayments. He saw ‘nothing wrong with shopping around if a pharmacist chooses to charge less than the copay- ment’. When asked if he had considered whether such a move would impact on the quality use of medicines, one of the four planks of national medicines policy, he said: ‘The quality use of medicines is essentially what the professionalism of the pharmacist will preserve’. Pharmacists may well ask how they can maintain that professionalism when the environ- ment in which they operate continues to be squeezed. If such a move gets through, no doubt the Guild will call on its members to remain firm against discounting and discourage pre- scription shopping for the benefit of their patients’ continuity of care. It was a relief for many when the Government announced that it would discard the com- pounding effect applied to the original policy. Congratulations should go to the Guild, Medi- cines Australia and the Generic Medicines Industry Assocation who, as members of the Med- icines Partnership, worked together to present their case. It was also noteworthy that Guild national president, John Bronger, was asked to chair the Medicines Partnership position. Mr Abbott said he was pleased that a ‘sensible consultation process’ had taken place leading to a solution that addressed most of the concerns at the table. While the heat has certainly been taken out of the issue, the AJP understands that it is not completely dead and buried, so watch this space. Regarding the AMA’s attacks on the pharmacy profession, Mr Abbott said that he would not, in his term, criticise the AMA. However he did say: ‘I would discourage public attacks by professional groups against one another, but I’d also encourage professional groups to talk with each other in private. There’s no point in creating unnecesary enemies, even for a Minister’. But it was the Minister’s answer to my final question that piqued my interest the most. I told Mr Abbott that many pharmacists were very concerned about when the negotiations for the Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement would commence and asked him to comment. Only hours earlier I had been informed of a letter by Philip Davies, deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, to John Bronger (see his ‘From the president’ column, p150), that poured more doubt on when and how negotations for the agreement would pro- ceed. Mr Bronger immediately issued a communique to all Guild members advising them of Mr Davies position. So I was relieved to hear the Minister say: ‘I’ve asked my officials to begin discussions about issues connecting with the agreement immediately’. That it was said within hours of Mr Bronger’s communique to members has me convinced that Mr Abbott understood that such ongoing uncertainty had caused significant disquiet for so many individual community phar- macies. The way in which the lead-up to the Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement has been handled by the Government and the Department is to be deplored. The way in which phar- macists have been given reason to believe that negotations were imminent, only to have this hope dashed time and again, resembles the modus operandi of an immature but powerful school bully. I hope that by the next edition of the AJP I will be able to report that such negotations have finally commenced. MATTHEW ETON EDITOR 146 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL 86 MARCH 2005 ADVERTISING OFFICES: Suite F2, 1-15 Barr Street, Balmain NSW 2041 TELEPHONE: (02) 9818 7800 FACSIMILE: (02) 9818 7811 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB SITE: www.appco.com.au/ Managing Editor: David Weston Consulting Editor: Jack Thomas, OAM, PhD, MSc, FRPharmS, FPS Editor: Matthew Eton Feature Writers: Kymberly Martin, Lisa Offord, Megan Peard Advertising Account Managers: Vicki Davidson (02) 9556 9816 email@example.com Rad Miller (02) 9556 9821 firstname.lastname@example.org Production Manager: Suzanne Watson Marketing and Promotions Coordinator: Natalie Edwards Layout designer: Janice Baxter BOARD OF DIRECTORS John R Coppock,(Chairman) FPS, FAICD, MAIPM Alan A Russell, OBE, FPS, MR Pharms S (Hon), FAIPM (HC), FAICD Leo Lewis, ASA, B Bus David Mattingly Publisher: David Weston SUBSCRIPTIONS Within Australia $93.50 pa GST inclusive All other addresses $120 pa Single copies: within Australia $8.25 GST inclusive Overseas $10 (includes postage) Inquiries (03) 9810 9900 The Australian Journal of Pharmacy is published each month by the Australian Pharmaceutical Publishing Co. Limited. ACN 004 082 053 Registered office: 40 Burwood Road, Hawthorn Vic 3122 Telephone: (03) 9810 9900 Facsimile: (03) 9819 1706 Printed and bound by National Capital Printing ISSN 0311-8002 © 2005 APPCo Ltd. All AJP material is copy- right. Reproduction in whole or in part is not permitted without the written permission of the publisher. WE KNOW PHARMACY Member: Audit Bureau of Circulations Largest paid circulation of Australian pharmacy publications