ORANGE pharmacist Frances Kinghorne said she and other community pharmacies are supportive of lower prices for medications but the current system of announcing price cuts without notice has the potential to harm the bottom-line of small pharmacies.
“We end up paying much more for medicines than the price at which they are dispensed, ”Ms Kinghorne said.
Ms Kinghorne said under the current system pharmacies get little warning of price cuts.
Ms Kinghorne said she has had a couple of instances recently where she lost hundreds of dollars on a single treatment and as a small community style pharmacy she is not alone.
She said a typical example is the price of a glaucoma injection treatment dropping from $1900 to $1360 in April.
“While that is a wonderful benefit to the customer we are in a situation where we buy the stock at the old price and then of course we have to sell at the new price,” she said
Pharmacies have been under pressure over the last few days following a campaign in the lead-up to the election which Pharmacy Guild of Australia representatives say is deliberately misleading.
The Pharmacy Guild representatives have labelled the campaign as “disgraceful” and have circulated petitions to Australia’s 5000 community pharmacies to help customers better understand the system.
However Ms Kinghorne said she hasn’t yet put the petition out as she believes the issue is complex and difficult for many Australians to understand.
“With something like the petition to stop Coles and Woolworths putting in pharmacies that was different, but certainly I will be thinking about putting it out,” she said.
The guild is claiming the taxpayer funded Consumers Health Forum, Choice and the Australian Council of Social Services are falsely claiming pharmacies are urging political parties to back away from a price disclosure mechanism for the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).
Ms Kinghorne says however community pharmacies in Orange have the best interests of their customers at heart and not only pride themselves on the advice and services they provide, but on the provision of cheaper generic medicines if appropriate.
She said recently a drug prescribed for schizophrenia also had a price reduction introduced, but once again with no notice for pharmacies, resulting in Hogan’s Pharmacy losing $50 per prescription.
“It is frustrating - we are often losing up to 60 per cent on the price of medications under this system and it happens every few months.”
“We can’t not have stock on hand for people and yet we have to put a huge effort into ensuring we don’t have too much stock when price reductions come - it is a lot of work,” she said.
The defence of community pharmacies by the guild comes amidst claims Australian medications are the fourth most expensive in the world, far ahead of the United Kingdom.