Patients currently taking medication for birth control and high cholesterol will no longer have to risk going without treatment should their prescription run out.
The federal parliament has today (March 2) passed the National Health (Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement) Bill, allowing uninterrupted access to two of the most commonly prescribed medications in Australia.
The amendment states that a pharmacist will now be able to dispense oral hormonal contraceptives and lipid modifying agents – also known as statins – in a selection of circumstances, including if the patient cannot get to a prescriber in time to get a valid script.
According to health minister Tanya Plibersek, the legislation will complement existing emergency or urgent supply mechanisms.
"This is a big win for patients who can't always make it to the doctor before their medications run out," she said.
"Importantly, the amendment will give patients access to the medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), meaning they will not have to pay full price as they would using the current emergency mechanisms."
While these medications are normally covered under the PBS, some private health insurance policies provide generous benefits for non-PBS items prescribed by your medical practitioner.