EDITORIAL for Monday 14 March 2016

Welcome to this weeks’ edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists) E-Magazine dated Monday, 14 March 2016.
This week we have devoted some time and effort to understand what is happening in the world of independent community pharmacies and how it is shrinking in terms of market share and the planning behind the forces driving these agendas.

Thinking ahead as to what will happen in Australia, you can only base it on what has happened in other major economies, particularly the US, which is usually trending 5 to 10 years in advance of Australia.

There is no doubt that the current Australian government is moving towards a privatisation of the health system starting with the sale of Medibank.
That is the easy part.
The PBS could be a possible next target because the global pharmacy conglomerates come complete with Patient Benefit Management (PBM) structures that either includes an internal health insurance package, or a negotiated package with an external insurance company.

The PBS is really a publicly owned PBM that acts in the interests of the patient.
The privately owned PBM acts in the interests of the drug manufacturers where discounts negotiated by a PBM with a drug company are automatically reflected in price increases for drugs without a ceiling.
A discount negotiated by a PBM also causes higher insurance premiums because higher drug prices cause higher dollar claims.
That is why the US system has become the highest cost health system providing the worst level of care.

In essence, the global drug companies control or have a strong financial investment in PBM’s, delivering ever increasing costs to the patient.
Only a government owned and controlled PBM structure can contain prices and protect patients as pharmacists can already testify in their dealings with the PBS.

The likely process for the future will probably be:
1. An adverse result (for pharmacy) from the investigating committee, with the removal of location rules and then a removal of ownership rules. The committee is already known to be 2:1 in favour of abandoning the existing rules.
The unfair voting intent means that the government does have a privatisation intent.
2. Removal of location rules will allow the strongest retail pharmacy groups to eradicate the majority of community pharmacy independents.
3. That would then set the stage for the floodgates to open with the pharmacy global conglomerates invading Australia in force.
4. With the overseas conglomerate arrival there would be a sale of the PBS to interested PBM’s. There would likely be an Australian PBM contender established before the flood of overseas versions, possibly with Medibank as a backbone, or an entity like CommInsure (heaven forbid!).

Pharmacy leadership appears asleep at the wheel because the “troops” are not held in a state of readiness, all left going in a different direction to each other.

We have prepared a series of articles in this edition that we suggest you archive as reference material to enable strategic decision-making to occur.
They are:
The Lessons From History – From Someone Who Has Lived It
An article that describes the events in the US leading in to the world’s worst health system, described by a senior US pharmacist. We have included a side-by-side comparison with Australia’s existing systems.

Marketing Your Leadership Potential – It’s a Great Persuader
This article describes how the marketing process can also be a unifying force for leadership direction.

Understanding the Impacts of a Global Pharmacy Invasion
This article attempts to visualise what may be impacted when community pharmacy is forced to defend itself against the invaders.

Whatever the order and nature of future events we could end up with a health system basically controlled by global drug manufacturers and terribly expensive for patients.
The exploding demographic of ageing populations is most affected and most vulnerable.
Our government is simply avoiding its responsibilities by not updating its existing health system and progressively privatising all parts of it.
This is not a solution and many will suffer the impacts financially and have shorter lifespans through the stress of simply trying to survive.

Health Care Dissatisfaction
A study conducted by a US health care group has found high levels of dissatisfaction among US patients.

While we believe that levels are not quite as high here in Australia, we believe that the US results simply reflect a future Australia.

Important Communications Relating to Vaccine Policy and Debate
The results of poor policy planning in respect of safe vaccination and coercion is still causing major debate.

This appears to be drug company driven, and is an example of what will continuously be happening when the PBS is sold off to an assortment of PBM’s.

You can’t get out what you don’t put in
Another commonsense article which applies to all parts of life – private and business.

I have always personally followed a philosophy described as “the harder I work the luckier I get”.
It seems to work in most instances.

And we finish up this weeks’ edition with some media releases from pharmacy leadership organisations:

PGA – PGA Forefront – Stock Management and Cash Flow Challenges

PSA – PSA Media Releases – 1. HDP Launched 2. ACT Intern of the Year 3. Victorian Pharmacist Vaccination Progress
NPS – NPS Media Release – National Medicinewise Awards

Enjoy your read even though it is difficult to find good news for community pharmacy currently.
Everybody wants to “own” us!

Neil Johnston
i2P E-Magazine
Monday, 14 March 2016

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