Pharmacy – Federal Budget 2023/24 – what you need to know

Learn about the changes that will impact pharmacies in the recent 2023-24 Federal Budget

The recent 2023-24 Federal Budget includes several measures that will impact pharmacies.

One of the major changes being the 60-day dispensing of PBS medicines.

From 1 September 2023, general patients will be able to obtain a script for 60 days of supply instead of the current 30 days. This will apply to more than 300 common medicines listed on the PBS and will be implemented in three stages over 12 months. The policy is largely aimed at those with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension.

While general patients will be able to save up to $180 a year with fewer trips to the GP and pharmacist, community pharmacies might need to make tough decisions as the pharmacy dispensing fees will effectively be halved.

In light of these changes, pharmacy owners should assess their overall position and give consideration to some of the following areas:

  • Inventory – What level of inventory are you currently carrying? Will you need more to meet the 60-day scripts? and the cashflow impact on holding of the inventory you want.
  • Finances – According to the Guild, pharmacies could be worse off by $177,000 of dispensing fees per annum and it is reasonable to expect that due to reduced foot traffic, pharmacy revenue from other channels will also decline.
  • Operations – You will need to monitor trading hours and staffing.
  • Lease – It is crucial to ensure that you have the right lease and space. Do you need to review your lease? Will you need to alter your fit outs?

Some other measures outlined in this federal budget totaling $1.3 billion over 4 years which counter the above include:

  • $111.8 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $24.2 million ongoing) to provide electronic-prescription delivery infrastructure and services, including mandating the use of e-prescribing for high risk and high-cost medicines subsidised under the PBS.
  • $114.1 million over 5 years from 2022–23 (and $31.0 million ongoing) to subsidise community pharmacies to administer eligible National Immunisation Program vaccines at no cost to patients.
  • $79.5 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $19.9 million ongoing) to double the Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance to ensure the ongoing viability of pharmacies due to reduced dispensing income.

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss further, please feel free to contact us.

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