You may die’: 60-day dispensing could create pharmacy oligopoly

Aug 10, 2023

KATTER’S Australian Party MP Bob Katter said he would be supportive of the Coalition’s disallowance motion (now delayed) on the government’s 60-day dispensing policy, fearing the changes would destroy communities and create a pharmaceutical “big two”.

The proposed changes set for September 1 will allow patients to purchase 60 days’ worth of medication with one script – effectively halving the income of the chemist, and allowing larger businesses with a stronger buying power to out compete smaller community operations.

Mr Katter immediately and urgently raised the alarm over the proposal when contacted by dozens of pharmacists in his electorate in April, stating smaller pharmacies feared medication shortages would lead to a “drugs tug-of-war.”

“So if you don’t have the medication, where are all the customers going to go – to whomever has them obviously – the big two,” Mr Katter said.

“If you have an oligopoly in supermarkets in relation to food, you might go hungry, however if you have and oligopoly in relation to pharmacy you may die.”

“The short-term sugar hit out of this was supposed to help with the cost of living but anyone that thinks a short-term benefit offset by an oligopoly in the industry are so brainless that I hope they never express their opinion in public again.

“The big two in the industry are forced to reduce their prices to meet what village pharmacies prices are offering, however if we don’t have the village pharmacies then nobody is forcing them to reduce their prices.

“And we can’t be taking community pharmacies for granted, they’re leaders in our towns with sports and business.”

Mr Katter said he wanted to thank the Pharmacy Guild led by Trent Twomey and all the pharmacists in his electorate who passionately raised the issue with him.