Community pharmacies secure cost of living relief

15 May 2024

The Australian government has pledged an additional $3 billion through the Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement (8CPA) aimed at easing the burden of healthcare costs on patients while at the same time supporting sustainable healthcare infrastructure.

This funding is over and above existing projections, and marks a significant investment in the health and wellbeing of Australians.

The budget benefits patients under several key initiatives:

  • New funding for community pharmacy programs, in particular Dose Administration Aids, providing increased support for essential services for vulnerable patients.
  • Cheaper medicines through measures to reduce patient costs and improve equity of access.

Further announcements on the full list of measures to be delivered under the additional $3 billion will be made following the finalisation of the 8CPA.

A major highlight of the budget is the Government' ongoing commitment to making medicines cheaper. The Commonwealth Government will freeze Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payments and phase-in the universal application of the $1 discount, funded by the Commonwealth Government.

This means PBS copayments will be frozen for up to five years for concession card holders, and one year for all other patients. The combined measure will deliver a saving to Australian patients of $318 million over the forward estimates and an additional $166.4 million in 2028-29.

This reform will restore universality to the PBS by replacing the failed $1 discount policy with a measure that will see all patients receive a $1 discount once the measure is fully implemented.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Professor Trent Twomey, welcomed the measures, stating, “The staged application of the universal $1 discount via the freezing of maximum medicine co-payments will help Australians struggling with the cost of healthcare. Freezing indexation of co-payments means patients won’t have to foot more of the overall cost for their medicines come 1 January each year.”

Professor Twomey highlighted the Guild's efforts in advocating for these changes, “On behalf of our members, the Guild has a strong track record of fighting to bring down the cost of medicines. I’m pleased the Guild secured anti-inflationary relief for patients by phasing in the universal application of the $1 discount as part of our 8CPA negotiations.”

The new five-year Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement (8CPA), effective from July 1, 2024, is designed to ensure a viable and sustainable network of community pharmacies across Australia, prioritising patient healthcare. The Commonwealth’s investment of $484.4 million in cheaper medicines was secured by the Guild as part of 8CPA negotiations.

Page last updated on: 15 May 2024