CHANGES to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme could affect the bottom line of community pharmacies by up to $30,000 in the 2014-15 financial year.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia specifically mentioned Clunes, Creswick, Daylesford, Trentham and Ballan as towns in which pharmacies could be affected by the change.
The guild’s communications director, Greg Turnbull, said these towns only had the one pharmacy for residents to rely on.
“For some businesses, it is one whole staff member, or stopping some of the services they provide, or closing on a Sunday,” he said.
Mr Turnbull described the changes to the scheme as complex.
They involve reductions in the prices of prescription medicines without adjusting pharmacy remuneration.
This is expected to have flow-on costs, which will effect on smaller pharmacies.
A petition with 1,210,471 signatures has been tabled in the House of Representatives, breaking the record for the largest petition presented.
The Ballarat region contributed 7500 signatures to that petition.
Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis said each signature showed the value of community pharmacies to residents.
“All over the world, in comparable countries to Australia, more use is being made of pharmacies to deal more cost-effectively with some of the problems faced by the health systems – and we can make a bigger contribution in Australia too,” he said.
“To do this, we need to get the balance right between making sure the PBS is providing real value for money for taxpayers and maintaining a strong and viable pharmacy network.”
The changes are expected to come into force from July.