Plan that could save women $170

 

A "simple and common sense" plan to allow women to renew their pill prescriptions at the chemist could save them hundreds of dollars.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has crunched the numbers on its push to allow pharmacists to renew pill prescriptions and found the plan would save women $170 over five years.

Those figures are based on if a woman went to the GP once a year to renew their contraceptive script.

The guild estimates the measure would also save the Federal Government $22 million a year.

Earlier this month, guild president George Tambassis wrote to Health Minister Greg Hunt asking him to consider the change by the end of 2020.

Current regulations only allow an emergency supply of the pill from a pharmacist, and that can only be done once a year and only for contraceptives that are on the PBS.

The guild said that excluded about 40 per cent of women who take a non-PBS subsidised pill.

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Pharmacists want to be able to renew pill prescriptions. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Pharmacists want to be able to renew pill prescriptions. Picture: Justin Lloyd

Last year there were 3,565,009 prescriptions issued across the country that the guild estimates equates to 1,188,336 GP visits.

The national average for an out-of-pocket GP visit is about $34.

"A commonsense reform, like this one, would bring Australia into line with countries like Canada, the UK, and New Zealand while empowering them to take greater control over their reproductive health - without having to worry about the cost of a doctor's visit," Mr Tambassis said.

"These savings mean the pill is more accessible for women who have trouble finding a bulk-billing doctor or who are struggling with high medical costs.

"This reform would mean women would have the choice to obtain this medication from a pharmacist.

"While the savings to government are welcome, more importantly, women stand to save $170 over five years, making the OCP (oral contraceptive pill) more affordable and accessible for all women - especially those who can't afford to see a GP so regularly."

Australia was the second country in the world to legalise the contraceptive pill, which was first introduced in Australia in 1961.

Some 80 per cent of Australian women have used the pill in their life.

Mr Tambassis told Mr Hunt Australia was lagging behind on the issue.

Earlier this month a spokesman for Mr Hunt said the Government had "no plans to change existing prescribing rules".

The Australian Medical Association and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners are also against the change.


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