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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : April 2005
editorial from the editor email@example.com EDITORIAL AND T the time of print, media around the country were reporting that Federal Cabinet was hunkering down to plot about how to bring pharmacists to heel, wrestle money from their over-sized wallets, and do as their Doctor Glasson tells them by breaking up the ‘anti- competitive cabal’ run by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (perhaps the anti-competitive cabal of medical specialists represented by the Australian Medical Association will be dis- cussed at a future Cabinet meeting). What is Cabinet’s asking price? A After several phone calls I was reassured that the Cabinet agenda item was to finalise the Gov- ernment’s negotiating positions for the next Community Pharmacy Agreement. After all, Health Minister Abbott reassured AJP readers last month and about a thousand pharmacists at the APP conference that he had instructed government officers to commence negotiations ‘immediately’. Problem is, they can’t commence negotiations without instructions from their masters. So why all the fuss, especially considering Mr Abbott’s line, also delivered at APP, that the Gov- ernment’s approach to the next agreement would be ‘evolutionary rather than revolutionary’? To answer this it’s important to remember that any government is a coalition of individu- als with personal agendas. So which politician has been most vocal against the interests of com- munity pharmacy? Just cast your minds back to when pharmacy was fighting for fair treat- ment in the face of competition policy being implemented by state legislators. Who was pushing the competition purist’s line? What about the more recent public threat to hack away at whole- saler margins by as much as 50 per cent? The Government’s master of competition policy, Treasurer Costello, has once again been stoking the fires within the media. Always interested in a good hatchet job, the media know that Mr Costello is a fine exponent of the hatchet. And my sources say that it was Mr Costello’s staffers who briefed the Canberra Press Gallery about the great hatchet job he would apply to pharmacy in Cabinet when it met the next morning. Fortunately for pharmacy, John Howard is still the Prime Minister and has not yet disavowed himself of the commitments he gave to community pharmacy that were contained in his pre- election letter. Mr Howard appears to understand the importance placed by the community on their local pharmacy and that medicines should not be considered ordinary items of com- merce. However, there is some expectation that such support will come at a price and the Cab- inet meeting in question will no doubt be setting that price. Mr Costello’s media noise has set for the negotiations to be played out within the media, as well as across a table. I understand that the Prime Minister’s Office was concerned when word leaked out that John Bronger’s position as Guild national president was being challenged by some within the Guild’s national council, as reported by Retail Pharmacy. Mr Bronger, while acknowledged as a tough negotiator, is a known entity who can be trusted to negotiate behind closed doors and not through the media. Let’s hope that Prime Minister Howard wins this fight in Cabinet and that when negotiations do commence, they are conducted in a vigorous but civil manner. Pharmacy’s position will be that it is not a cost centre, but rather a means of improving effi- ciencies from within the health system. If the Government moves forward with its initiative to shave 12.5 per cent off the price of generic medicines and reduces the wholesale margin by just 1 per cent, it would cost an average of $27,000 per pharmacy according to Guild figures. This would undermine the viability of between 10 and 15 per cent of community pharmacies through- out Australia. Imagine how other measures will impact the community pharmacy network. CONGRATULATIONS to Joan Dobson of Victoria for winning the recent AJP subscription drive. Mrs Dobson has won accommodation, flights and registration to the Australian College of Pharmacy Practice and Management conference to be held on Queensland’s Hamilton Island from 20 to 24 April. MATTHEW ETON EDITOR 228 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL 86 APRIL 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