Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the “Continued Dispensing Arrangements” program has been diversified by the Australian Government Department of Health.
Initially, these arrangements will only last until the end of 2021. However, because of Covid-19 cases relapse and the appearance of new diseases, The Government decided to extend them until June 30, 2022.
Through the Continued Dispensing medical supply program, a person with an immediate medication need who cannot obtain a PBS prescription during that time will be given the chance to receive that certain medication dispensed by a pharmacist.
Ongoing Continued Dispensing Arrangements
Starting July 1st, the “Continued Dispensing Emergency Measure” will be named “Ongoing Continued Dispensing Arrangements”. This will give way to the addition of new medicines under The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Some of these medicines are statins and oral contraceptives. According to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), these medications are endorsed as they can help in managing, treating, and preventing the following health conditions:
Asthma and other lung problems
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Under the PBS, the cost of medicines for many medical conditions will be partially covered by The Government, and excluding the new medicines, there are around 906 medicines available.
Community pharmacists can supply these medications to patients once a year.
Dispensing Medicines Under PBS
Before a pharmacist can dispense a medicine under PBS, a person’s medication history will be checked. The person should have used the medication in the last three months, his or her health condition is stable, and he or she has not been supplied under PBS by other pharmacies.
For documentation, the pharmacist will record all these verifications and the person will be given a Consumer Declaration and Prescriber Notification Form. This will be used for the following:
Confirmation that the patient has been supplied a medication without consulting a prescriber
Notifying the PBS prescriber that the patient has received the medication under PBS due to immediate need
Dispensing medicines under PBS will also apply to eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is in support of the Closing the Gap Copayment Program.
Expanding Oral Contraceptives Not Risky
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has welcomed The Government’s expansion of the Continued Dispensing and its decision to make it permanent effective July 1st.
PSA National President Chris Freeman believes that this will give confidence to the community that, no matter what emergency may happen, they will always have access to the medications they need.
Additionally, the PSA believes that this medical supply program is effective in improving the health and well-being of Australians.
However, there are many opinions about the risk of oral contraceptives being added to the PBS scheme. Still, the PSA strongly refuses these assertions.
According to Dr. Chris Freeman, pharmacists can dispense oral contraceptives under continued dispensing arrangements when the patient comes with a valid prescription from a GP within the last six months.
Additionally, pharmacists can dispense these medications as they have met the necessary accreditation, training, and professional requirements.
As medication experts and competent healthcare professionals, pharmacists are well-prepared to advise their patients in case of the potential risks of these medicines.
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