Government Moves on Dispensing from Unapproved Pharmacies

The Australian Government is moving to support pharmacists who are being undermined by a small number of pharmacists who claim payment for dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines from unapproved premises.

Page last updated: 15 September 2014

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15 September 2014

The Australian Government is moving to support pharmacists who are being undermined by a small number of pharmacists who claim payment for dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines from unapproved premises.

Under federal legislation, pharmacists can only claim financial reimbursement for medicines dispensed from premises which have been approved by the Australian Government to supply PBS medicines.

Health Minister Peter Dutton said the Department of Health has become aware of a small number of instances where approved pharmacists appear to be claiming for the supply of pharmaceutical benefits where the supply was not made at or from approved premises.

“It is important that pharmacists only claim for PBS medicines dispensed from premises which have been approved by government,” Mr Dutton said.

“That’s the law under the National Health Act and we need to enforce it.”

Pharmacists who fail to comply with the new requirement could have their approval status suspended or revoked, meaning they would no longer be able to supply and claim for pharmaceutical benefits.

They could be made to repay funds for ineligible claims and also face criminal prosecution.

The Government has been working with key industry stakeholders to educate approved pharmacists of their obligations under the Act when submitting a claim for payment for the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit.

The PBS, which is expected to cost more than $9 billion in 2014-15, is the primary means by which the Australian Government ensures Australians have timely and affordable access to pharmaceuticals.

“It is important that these funds are spent as intended while ensuring that community access to important medicines is maintained,” Mr Dutton said.

“It has become necessary to emphasise these obligations by including them in the conditions of approval for approved pharmacists to better reflect the intention of the Act.

“The vast majority of approved pharmacists are supplying and claiming PBS medicines correctly in accordance with the Act.

“Only a small number of approved pharmacists may not be complying by claiming for the supply of pharmaceutical benefits for which they are not eligible to do so.”

Consultation on the new arrangements will begin on 17 September to give all pharmacists a chance to comment on the new arrangements before they come into legal effect.

Further information on the consultation process will be made available on the PBS website. A copy of the proposed amendments can be requested by emailing pharmacyconditions@health.gov.au

For more information, please contact the Minister's Office on 02 6277 7220

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