Since 1990, the remuneration that pharmacists receive for dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines and the regulations regarding the location of pharmacies have been governed by a series of agreements between the Australian Government and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (the Guild). Over time, these agreements have increased in scope and now also provide for professional pharmacy programmes and services.
The Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA) between the Australian Government and the Guild provides approximately $18.9 billion to over 5000 community pharmacies for dispensing PBS medicines, providing pharmacy programmes and services and for the Community Service Obligation arrangements with pharmaceutical wholesalers.
To ensure that all Australians have access to PBS medicines, particularly in rural and remote areas, Pharmacy Location Rules (the Rules) have been a feature of all six Community Pharmacy Agreements. The Rules are given their effect by a Ministerial Determination under section 99L of the National Health Act and administered by the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority (ACPA).
Community Service Obligation
Since 2005, the Australian Government has provided funding for a Community Services Obligation (CSO) Funding Pool. The CSO Funding Pool ensures that all Australians have ongoing access to the full range of PBS medicines through community pharmacies. It provides financial support to pharmaceutical wholesalers, supplying the full range of PBS medicines regardless of pharmacy location and the relative cost of supply.
The CSO Funding Pool helps ensure that low volume PBS medicines are delivered to community pharmacies anywhere in Australia and that all PBS medicines are delivered to rural and remote community pharmacies.