Following last week’s revelation that AstraZeneca will be exclusively distributing a proportion of their products direct to pharmacies, the Pharmacy Guild has expressed its concerns.

“The Guild is actively lobbying Health Minister Hunt to address the issue of direct supply by manufacturers by advocating that all PBS medicines be made available to pharmacies through the full line wholesalers,” says President George Tambassis in a statement.

“We have expressed community pharmacy concerns with AstraZeneca’s recently announced move to an exclusive direct supply arrangement for some of its products, and I have personally asked the Minister to make it a requirement that all PBS medicines be made available through the full line wholesalers.” 

Nine AstraZeneca product ranges began direct distribution  from 1 November.

The company says it is “making this change so AstraZeneca can monitor supply and demand for these specialised products more closely, respond to market need with greater speed and accuracy and improve efficiencies”.

Mr Tambassis says that during a meeting with Federal Health Department staff last week, he argued that exclusive direct supply increases complexity and cost for pharmacies and undermines the Community Service Obligation, “the purpose of which is to ensure that all Australians have timely access to the full range of PBS medicines in accordance with required CSO delivery standards”.

Exclusive direct supply arrangements operate outside the CSO and they fragment and potentially put at risk the overall sustainability of the CSO supply chain, especially if such arrangements proliferate, argues Mr Tambassis.

“We will continue to keep up the pressure by making our case strongly to Minister Hunt. In these efforts we are supported by and are working closely with the full line wholesalers who are seeking the same solution as the Guild.”

The National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA) also called for the Federal Government to ensure all PBS-listed medicines remain available for distribution by CSO wholesaler.