Community pharmacies have signed off on a new agreement with the federal government which commits more than $96 million to medicine safety over the next year, with older Australians set to benefit.

The Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement (7CPA) increases investment in professional pharmacy programs to $1.2 billion over five years, health minister Greg Hunt said.

That includes $96.4 million in 2020-21 for home medicine reviews, residential medication management, quality use of medicines in residential care, MedsCheck and Diabetes MedsCheck.

It also allocates $105.5 million next year for medication adherence programs including Webster-pak subsidies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt at the signing of the 7CPA on June 11

“Elderly Australians and people with chronic conditions will benefit from this increased investment through simplified and improved community pharmacy medication management and adherence programs, such as dose administration aids and medicine checks,” Mr Hunt said.

Boosting professional programs

National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, said the new agreement boosted expenditure on professional programs by $100 million and would support the safe use of medicines, particularly for older Australians.

“This is a forward-looking agreement, flexible in its approach. It provides an opportunity for the implementation of significant policy reforms, particularly in the areas of aged care and mental health that will have a direct impact on patient health outcomes,” he said

Peak aged care organisation LASA welcomed the agreement but said it was disappointing that telehealth wasn’t included.

“Telehealth has been approved for use in medication reviews during COVID-19 and appears to have been successful,” CEO Sean Rooney said.

“The use of this technology to support, in particular, rural and remote communities should be offered as an option on an ongoing basis.”

But he said the allocation of $96.4m for medication management reflected some of the concerns highlighted by the Royal Commission.

It was essential that this funding continued to increase to cater to the growing ageing population, Mr Rooney said.

The agreement, signed off by the Pharmacy guild of Australia, the PSA and the federal government, comes into effect on 1 July and will remain in place until June 2025.

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