Australia cannot afford cuts to pharmacy: report

19 June 2023


A new independent report released this morning has highlighted the enormous impacts of 60-day dispensing on the pharmacy sector.  


The report from economist Henry Ergas AO with Tulipwood Advisory and the Relational Insights Data Lab at Griffith University, found that more than 20,000 community pharmacy jobs would be lost over the next four years.  


On top of job losses, Mr Ergas found that more than 650 pharmacies would close and a further 900 would be at risk of closing due to financial pressures as a result of 60-day dispensing policies introduced this year.  


Key findings from the report include: 


  • Up to 20,818 community pharmacy jobs could be lost over four years. 
  • Up to 665 community pharmacies could close, with a further 900 at risk of closure due to financial stress. 
  • Free services could be cut, including blood pressure monitoring and weight checking as part of diabetes programs, home delivery of medication, asthma monitoring, extended medicine management (on average each pharmacy delivers 20 or more free consultations each day). 
  • Cuts will disproportionally impact vulnerable communities, including the elderly and Australians living with chronic health conditions. 
  • Regional and rural pharmacies will be the first to close, disproportionately impacting First Nations Australians.  
  • More than $4.5 billion will be cut from community pharmacies over four years. 
  • $2.5 billion cost to Australian health system due to increased hospitalisations from medicine misadventure. 


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Dr Fei Sim FPS said the report’s findings were disturbing. 


“The report’s key findings highlight just how pervasive the impact of 60-day dispensing will be, not only on the viability of community pharmacy, but also on the availability of accessible healthcare for Australians,” Dr Sim said.  


“This is the first economic modelling we’ve seen that looks at the flow-on effects of 60-day dispensing, and the results are scary. 


“Pharmacists are an integral part of our primary healthcare system, and with medicine use on the rise we cannot afford to lose billions from our sector. 


“The 2019 Medicine Safety: Take Care report found that 50 per cent of medicine related harm was preventable, which will no doubt rise without pharmacists available to support communities.  


“All pharmacists support making medicines more affordable, but it cannot come at the expense of medicine safety, a cost that will be worn by our most vulnerable groups. 


“We need to understand that these impacts are significant. We need to genuinely sit down and plan a way forward for patients, the pharmacy sector, and for the government.  


“We want a solution that allows us to continue providing accessible health care to our communities and supporting their safe and effective use of medicines,” Dr Sim concluded.

In the report, Henry Ergas AO says: 


  • “It would seem sensible for the next steps to be suspend the implementation of the first tranche of the MDQ policy change…until an evidence-based, independent review of the financial and economic impacts on the community pharmacy sector and the Australian community more broadly is undertaken and the impacts properly understood”. 
  • “As a key part of this independent analysis… engage in meaningful consultation with all stakeholders in the community pharmacy sector (peak bodies, consumer bodies and individual pharmacists across all of Australia’s diverse regions) so as to properly test the impacts of the MDQ policy change at the individual community pharmacy level, at regional levels, and at a national level”. 


The full report can be found here. 


Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au