60-day prescribing: GPs say it’s not black and white

Healthed

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Healthed

Healthed

GPs largely support 60-day prescribing, but say concerns should be taken seriously

Three quarters of GPs say 60-day prescribing of selected medications will improve affordability and convenience for patients—but many also believe there are real concerns that need to be addressed, interim results of Healthed’s latest survey of more than 1200 GPs suggests.

When asked about their overall views of the policy, 46% of surveyed GPs expressed support, but said potential negative impact needs to be addressed, while one third supported the policy without caveats, and just over one-fifth said they do not support it.

 

What are the concerns?

Half of surveyed GPs are concerned about increased risk of adverse outcomes — either because patients’ conditions aren’t stable enough or due to less frequent interaction with healthcare professionals — and 48% say increased risk of overdose is a concern.

Additionally, 42% of respondents are concerned about the financial viability of community pharmacies, and 40% agree that vulnerable people or those in regional or remote areas may be disproportionately impacted due to financial stress or closure of community pharmacies.

As for claims that the policy could lead pharmacies to shut, more than a third of GPs agree this is a genuine threat.

 

While GPs seem to see the nuance, advocacy groups have been more black and white.

RACGP president Dr Nicole Higgins has urged MPs and senators to “ignore the scare campaigns and support these changes,” and the RACGP recently joined the AMA, NACCHO, and a range of consumer and health organisations pleading for political support of the reforms, which are set to take effect in September.

The survey results come following the release of a lengthy report commissioned by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, and endorsed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, among others, concluded that 20,000 jobs will be lost and 650 pharmacies will close over the next four years.

What GPs are saying about 60-day prescribing

“Environmental waste if dosage change or medication is being discontinued. Leftovers will end up in the bin/land waste.”

“An obvious improvement in accessing many regular medications. If there are significant negative financial impacts on pharmacies these need to be addressed.”

“Unnecessary. There are better ways to assist community medicine/spend government money.”

“More positives than negatives. A really good idea for anticoagulants and antiplatelet medicines and other meds that patients may not take as regularly as required.”

“The cost advantages outweighed by loss of community pharmacies.”

“I don’t have that many “set-and-forget” patients. I am usually trying to optimise every patient’s medications and only give a personalised, customised number of repeats when I am comfortable with a patient’s clinical “stability”.”

“I think the problems that pharmacists might experience with the 60-day prescribing is a beat-up! Yes, there may be a reduction in revenue, but compared to the discounted consultations that I have been doing for more than a decade due to the inadequate Medicare rebate, it’s a drop in the ocean. Really!”

“Two sides to every story. Good for patients’ wallets but not for pharmacies which may not be able to continue.”

“I know that I am on a statin and PPI and I would personally prefer to get 60 days worth of meds instead of 30. So why not patients?”

“Government cost-cutting without scant regard for remote areas. If my local pharmacy closes, the next one is 200km away.”

“Excellent idea. I think patients will save a lot of money on all the OTC crap they are sold by pharmacists, which they will now buy less of.”

“It will benefit elderly people and families on low incomes and multiple comorbidities.”

“I have discussed this in detail with a few pharmacists. It is suggested that actual cost savings to patients will not be that great due to the safety net also being lowered. To the extent that this harms pharmacists, there should be an increased benefit paid to them for the 60-day prescribing items.”

 

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