A review into pharmacy regulation in Australia has produced a suggestion that's likely to be controversial.

A review panel, chaired by Professor Stephen King, has handed down an Interim Report after conducting an independent Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation in Australia.

The Interim Report contains a large number of findings and options for reform but one of them (although seemingly beyond the panel's remit) is that the federal government should adopt a more streamlined approach to listing medicines on the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to reduce costs to the Australian community - in itself a laudable aim - but the suggested manner of achieving the saving is more concerning.

The suggestion is that a similar tender-based approach to that which applies in New Zealand should be adopted - when a branded medicine comes off patent the government should hold a tender for the listing of generic versions of the medicine. Only a small number of generic versions should be listed (four, in addition to the original branded medicine is suggested) made up of those best able to meet the distribution and other conditions imposed by the government at the least cost to the PBS.

The commonly received view in the pharmaceutical industry is that the pharmaceutical tender situation in New Zealand is cumbersome and often makes it unprofitable to supply pharmaceuticals in that country.

The suggestion is bound to be a controversial and will, no doubt, be the subject of further submissions which may be made until July 23, 2017, pending the Final Report due later this year.

Author - Wayne Condon, Principal Lawyer

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