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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3178

Mr Hodges asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 6 November 1979:

(   1 ) How many prescription items were dispensed in the (a) Royal Canberra Hospital and (b) Woden Valley Hospital, ACT, in each of the last 4 financial years, for persons (i) as inpatients and (ii) attending the outpatient clinics and casualty departments of the hospitals.

(2)   What was the total cost for prescriptions dispensed for persons attending outpatient clinics and casualty departments.

(3)   Does this cost include salaries and overheads including an allocation for shared costs such as administration, cleaning, power and area used.

(4)   How does this cost to the Government compare per prescription with the cost if the prescriptions had been dispensed in a private pharmacy, taking into account the fact that the patient is paying $2.75 towards the total cost when dispensed in a private pharmacy.

(5)   Will the Government limit the supply of prescriptions from hospitals and use the facility of private pharmacies to a greater extent.

Mr MacKellar - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: (1)(a)and(b)-


(2)   1975-76, $151,771; 1976-77, $227,887; 1977-78, $346,902; 1978-79, $567,681.

(3)   No.

(4)   No data are available within the Commission on the cost structures of commercial pharmacies and what their drug costs would be were they to assume the role of hospital pharmacies in the outpatient area. Further even if information was available to the Commission concerning pharmacies, any comparison would be difficult because:

(a)   hospitals buy large quantities of drugs on a contract basis and obtain discounts which represent a significant cost saving;

(b)   private pharmacies would not hold all the drugs that are available at the hospital pharmacies such as- radiopharmaceuticals drugs not approved for marketing drugs under clinical trial.

The prescribing of these drugs would vary at hospitals according to the specialities practised;

(c)   there are differences of scale in the overhead costs that apply to dispensing of prescriptions for inpatients and outpatients. There is an inherent difficulty in calculating the actual overhead costs in a hospital pharmacy that can be attributed to outpatient dispensing services.

(5)   From November 1979, the Commission revised its hospital pharmacy policy to provide that private patients attending Clinics conducted by medical specialists on hospital premises would be provided with prescriptions for dispensing from private pharmacies.

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