Script plan opposed
The plan to implement 60-day prescriptions has triggered a heated discussion regarding potential medicine shortages.
While doctors' groups celebrate the move as a victory for patients, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia expresses apprehension, claiming that the new limit will worsen existing shortages.
Out of the 495 medicines facing supply shortages, only 46 are classified as critical shortages. The rest have either a medium or low impact.
Additionally, the Therapeutic Goods Administration's medicine shortage database indicates that alternatives, including generics or similar drugs in different strengths, are available for many listed medications.
Experts dismiss claims that the 60-day prescription change will lead to shortages.
Health economist Stephen Duckett has described the notion as “rubbish”, clarifying that it will not increase the number of drugs dispensed, but rather change the frequency.
Other experts say the claim does not make sense because patients will still consume the same amount of medicine.
The Australian Medical Association's Queensland president, Dr Maria Boulton, supports this stance, stating that most supply issues are short-term and primarily affect antibiotics, which will not be impacted by the prescription plan.
According to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, only seven out of over 300 affected medicines faced shortages with no direct alternative.
The committee says that medicine shortages are influenced by factors unrelated to the prescription quantity.
The government's 60-day prescription plan will be implemented in three stages, starting in September, and primarily affects 325 types of medicines.