Minister for Health and Aged Care – interview on the Today Show – 1 September 2023

Read the transcript of Minister Butler's interview with Sarah Abo and Karl Stefanovic about 60-day prescriptions.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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HOST, SARAH ABO: Welcome back to Today. And millions of Aussies will be able to get two months’ worth of medication for the price of a single prescription, as the federal government's new changes kick in.

HOST, KARL STEFANOVIC: Let's bring in Health Minister Mark Butler in Adelaide. Good morning to you, Mark.


STEFANOVIC: There's been significant pushback, as you know, from pharmacists, but you've rammed it through.

BUTLER: This is a great day for patients, Karl. Almost 4 million Australians from today will be able to ask their doctor for a 60-day script for around 100 common medicines that are treating ongoing health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, heart disease and many more. So, two scripts for the price of one, effectively halving the cost of their medicines. It will also mean fewer visits to the doctor, fewer visits to the pharmacy, as well as more money in their pockets.

ABO: The pharmacy lobby, as you know, has been very, very vocal on this. I mean, they're concerned about what this will do to their community. What are your concerns surrounding that?

BUTLER: These big changes are never easy, Sarah, but we're really committed to a strong, vibrant future for community pharmacy, which is why every single dollar that the Commonwealth saves from this measure – and that's substantial – every single dollar will be reinvested back into community pharmacy to help them provide more services to their patients, their customers; things like delivering the National Immunisation Program that in the past has been restricted to doctors.

So, I'm really confident there's a strong, vibrant future for community pharmacy. But this is a really important measure to save money for Australian patients but also improve their medication compliance. It's good for their health as well. That's why pretty much every other country we would usually compare ourselves to has been doing this for years and years.

STEFANOVIC: A real concern is shortages of certain products. How are you going to combat that?

BUTLER: No serious authority has any concern about shortages of products. Every medicines authority has debunked this scare campaign. And just think about it for a little while. Pretty much exactly the same number of tablets are going to be dispensed over a period of 3 or 6 months or 12 months. There is no reason why there should be any shortage of medicine supply as a result of this measure. That's what the medicines authorities have said very clearly. This is just another scare campaign.

ABO: You're confident no jobs will be lost then?

BUTLER: We're really sure there's a strong, vibrant future for community pharmacy. Since I announced this measure a few months ago, we've received twice as many applications to open new pharmacies as we received the same time last year or the year before. Clearly, people out there think there's still money to be earned running a pharmacy, and I'm confident there is, too.

STEFANOVIC: Have you got anything for the health of Qantas at all? I mean, it's an absolute disaster for your government.

ABO: They need a double prescription.

BUTLER: They're going to have to answer to the consumer watchdog for this latest story about selling tickets on ghost flights They have to answer to the consumer watchdog, the ACCC. And that's completely appropriate. But they're also going to have to answer to their customers as well.

STEFANOVIC: All right. It's good to talk to you today. Enjoy Adelaide over the weekend. Don't get up to any mischief. Thanks, Mark.


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