Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 20 May 1970


Mr Sherry asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Will he give consideration to the claim by chemists for an increase in the fee for dispensing national health service prescriptions.

(2)   Is it a fact that the chemists' have not received an increase since 1961; if so, is the chemists' case therefore a strong one.

(3)   Does he still maintain that there can be no review of chemists' remuneration until a new survey has been taken.


Dr Forbes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   I recently received a new submission, dated 5th March 1970, from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia requesting an increase in National Health dispensing fees and I referred this submission to the Joint Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Arrangements for examination and advice, as this is the normal procedure. I received the Joint Committee's report on this submission on 20 April 1970 and I am at present considering the report

(2)   Remuneration for dispensing National Health prescriptions is paid to chemists by way of a dispensing fee plus a markup on the wholesale price of the drugs supplied. The dispensing fees are 30 cents for ready - prepared benefits and 55 cents for those benefits where the chemist mixes the ingredients. The rates of markup are 331/3% and 50% respectively. These remuneration rates have not changed since 1961 but the amount of remuneration per prescription has increased and the number of National Health prescriptions has increased substantially since 1961. The amount of remuneration paid to chemists by the Commonwealth per annum has increased from $29.2 million in 1961-62 to $45.5 million in 1968-69, an increase of 56% over the period. Even after allowing for the increased number of pharmacies this still represents an average increase in remuneration of 33% per chemist.

(3)   The information on National Health dispensing costs from the past survey relates to 1964-65 and the only way to obtain current information on the costs of dispensing National Health prescriptions is to have another survey. The Joint Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Arrangements, which comprises equal Guild and Government representation under an independent chairman (Sir Walter Scott), concurs with this. When the Government, after examining the report from the last survey, advised the Pharmacy Guild in mid-1969 of its decision not to increase National Health dispensing fees, it also invited the Guild to participate in a new survey so that a further review of chemists' remuneration could be carried out in the light of changing cost structures. The Guild has not yet signified whether it will accept the Government's offer of a new survey.

Chemists: Dispensing Fees (Question No. 630)


Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister for

Health, upon notice:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to a circular letter addressed by Sir Eric Scott. O.B.E., Federal President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, to Federal Members stating that the Minister had consistently declined the Guild's invitation to negotiate chemists' remuneration for dispensing national health prescriptions.

(2)   Has he declined such an invitation; if so, on what grounds.

(3)   Has the Government (a) taken no action since 1961 to adjust chemists' dispensing fees, (b) advised the Pharmacy Guild of Australia by letter dated 6 August 1969 of its decision not to increase the remuneration to retail chemists and (c) abrogated its 1961 agreement with the Guild.


Dr Forbes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   I have not received any request from the Federal Pharmacy Guild for a meeting with me on chemists' remuneration for National Health dispensing since the meeting I had with an official Guild deputation on 18th July 1969, at the request of the Guild, in relation to the Government's decision (as advised to the Guild in my letter of 20 June 1969) on the Guild's application for increased diepensing fees.

(3)   (a) The Government and the Guild jointly had a survey carried out by an independent firm of consultants on the costs of dispensing National Health prescriptions and in mid-1969 the Government decided, after examining the survey report, that National Health dispensing fees would remain unaltered. When conveying this decision to the Pharmacy Guild the Government invited the Guild to participate in a new survey so that a further review of chemists' remuneration could be carried out, but the Guild has not yet signified whether it will accept the offer of a new survey. I recently received a new submission, dated 5 March 1970, from the Pharmacy Guild requesting an increase in dispensing fees and 1 referred the submission to the Joint Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Arrangements for examination and advice, as this is the normal procedure. I received the Joint Committee's report on this submission on 20 April 1970 and I am at present considering this report. As soon as possible I will write to the Federal President of the Pharmacy Guild on this matter.

(b)   The Pharmacy Guild was advised by letter of 20 June 1969, of the Government's decision on the Guild's previous application for increased dispensing fees.

(c)   The Government was exercising a right under the then existing arrangement with the Guild when, in 1961, it advised the Guild that, because of the 'freakish' result yielded by the updating formula, it wished to negotiate a new arangement for future adjustments in National Health dispensing fees.







Suggest corrections