Senate debates

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


National Health Amendment (Simplified Price Disclosure) Bill 2013; In Committee

10:21 am

Photo of Nick XenophonNick Xenophon (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

It seems clear that, while the price of medical and hospital services rose 191 per cent from 1991 to 2012—that is, over a 21 year period—the cost of pharmaceutical products rose 58 per cent: a much smaller price rise. The concern is that community pharmacies, when compared to other health service sectors, have unfairly borne the brunt of cost savings, and the concern of community pharmacies is that they seem to be a soft target for successive governments.

We know from the Senate inquiry into chemotherapy drugs—docetaxel in particular, in which Senator Di Natale had a very strong interest—that if, with changes to price disclosure legislation, you muck the method of payment around and have a sudden, sharp shock in the form of a reduction in income for pharmacies, pharmacies are put in an untenable and unsustainable situation. The fear I have is that up to 1,000 pharmacies in this country could hit the wall as a result of the accelerated price disclosure provisions in the bill.

The questions are: is the government aware of any modelling on whether the changes in the bill will mean that some pharmacies will have to close their doors or shed staff and therefore reduce their service levels? Does the government concede that the cost of pharmaceutical products appears to have risen 58 per cent in a 21-year period compared to a 191 per cent rise in the cost of medical and hospital services? Is the burden being unfairly placed on the community pharmacy sector rather than on other parts of the health sector?


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