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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : April 2005
management management updates ORE costs in the supply system, less services to community phar- macists and the end of full-line wholesal- ing for pharmaceuticals have been pre- dicted if negotiations for the Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement result in wholesaling margins being cut. The three full-line wholesalers in Aus- tralia—Sigma, Australian Pharmaceuti- cal Industries (API ) and Mayne—have begun a campaign through their peak organisation, the National Pharmaceuti- cal Services Association (NPSA) to get these messages through to government and key stakeholders. Led by new NPSA executive director, Pattie Berrens, who replaces Doug Fer- guson in the position after his 16 years ser- Is it the beginning of the end for full-line wholesalers? M vice to the NPSA and 50 years in the phar- maceutical industry, the campaign aims to underline the community benefit offered by full-line wholesalers. For some time, bureaucrats and politi- cians have identified the wholesale mar- gin as a cost-saving item up for negotia- tion during the Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement. Concern about this intention was elevated when Trea- surer Peter Costello publicly announced his intention, through negotiations for the Agreement, to cut the wholesale margin by up to 50 per cent or replace it alto- gether with a flat fee. In a background briefing by Professor Ian Harper from the Melbourne Business School presented at the recent Australian Professional Pharmacy conference, if full- line wholesaling services disappear: • consumers won’t have access to PBS medicines when and where they need them, which is a serious compromise of the National Medicines Policy; • pharmacies won’t have access to the full range of PBS medicines without bearing the costs of distributing low volume and/or specialist drugs; • pharmacies will lose the financial support provided by wholesalers as they transform themselves into short- line or direct sellers; and • manufacturers of low volume and/or specialist drugs will need to seek out and pay for alternative distribution channels. ¦ THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 APRIL 2005 ? 273