Pharmacy Board of Australia - June 2024
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June 2024

Issue 41 - June 2024

From the Chair

The Board has begun engagement with key stakeholders on options for a revised supervised practice arrangements registration standard and revised guidelines for pharmacists. We expect to publicly consult on revised drafts later in 2024. The compounding guidelines are close to completion and should be published shortly.

This month I remind pharmacists of your long-established responsibilities when dispensing medicines, and how they continue to apply in the context of evolving business models such as services designed solely to provide customers with access to a predetermined medicine. Read more below about the joint statement released by the Board with the Medical, Nursing and Midwifery Boards.

On behalf of the Board, I thank all pharmacists and students who took part in our stakeholder event in Perth in May. We welcome these opportunities to engage with the profession and hear your views on current issues.

Brett Simmonds
Chair, Pharmacy Board of Australia

Board news

Concerns raised over emerging models of care

The emergence of services designed solely to provide customers with access to a predetermined medicine raises concerns that some practitioners may be putting profit ahead of patient welfare. This has prompted the Board to release a joint statement with the Medical, Nursing and Midwifery Boards.

Practice models of concern often feature clinics that treat a single issue or prescribe and dispense a single medicine in response to patient demand. Some focus on high-volume telemedicine consultations and or computer algorithm-based prescribing of medicines resulting in prescriptions being supplied directly to pharmacies.

This enables the supply of unregistered or compounded medicines directly to patients, removing the consumers’ choice of provider and preventing direct contact between patients and pharmacists. This may prevent necessary information exchange to support the safe supply and use of medicines. Pharmacies and prescribing clinics co-located and set up as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to prescribe and dispense a single medicine being sought by consumers are also on regulators’ radar.

The Board reminds pharmacists that the care of the patient is their primary concern. Good practice to ensure the safe supply of medicines includes:

  • Effective communication between authorised prescribers and pharmacists dispensing prescribed medicines. It also involves an understanding of the important role of each profession to ensure that the interests of the patient are their primary priority.
  • If a pharmacist believes that it is not safe or appropriate to dispense and supply a prescribed medicine, they must communicate their concerns to the prescriber and patient so that alternative options can be considered. This may include not supplying the prescribed medicine and recommending another suitable medicine that if agreed, the authorised prescriber would need to prescribe.
  • Recognising and respecting the rights of patients or clients to make their own decisions which includes the right to choose where they wish to access prescribed medicines. Pharmacists must not enter into arrangements for exclusive supply of prescriptions from a health practitioner/prescriber or other third party, although pharmacists may offer to retain prescriptions for subsequent dispensing with the patient’s or client’s consent.
  • If patients who require the supply of prescribed medicines are engaging with a pharmacist via a pharmacy which uses an online platform, a pharmacist should communicate with the patient to obtain any required information and to offer counselling to ensure safe use of medicines and patient safety.

It doesn’t matter what model of care is used to prescribe or dispense. The pharmacist dispensing medicines remains responsible for delivering safe and appropriate care and for ensuring that their own practice meets the standard expected by the Board and the community. 

If you have a concern about unsafe practice or behaviour of another health practitioner visit the Ahpra website for more information on how to raise your concern.

Read more in the news item.

Visit to Perth

On 30 May 2024, the Board hosted a stakeholder reception in Perth attended by students, registered local community and hospital-based pharmacists, and pharmacy stakeholders. 

We welcomed the opportunity to engage with stakeholders and discuss local issues as well as provide an update on Board work currently underway, such as the review of registration standards and guidelines.


Have your say on the draft Criminal history registration standard and supporting materials

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the National Boards invite you to have your say on the draft Criminal history registration standard (the criminal history standard) and supporting documents.

In late 2023 Ahpra and the National Boards consulted widely on a range of reforms, as part of our work to improve public safety in health regulation. This included a series of questions about the current version of the criminal history standard.

We want to hear from you on how we have responded to feedback, the draft changes we have made to the criminal history standard, and the other material we have developed to explain how the standard is applied. 

The consultation will be open until 30 July 2024. Find out more about this consultation and provide feedback on the Current consultations page.

Read more in the news item.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 31 March 2024. At this date there were 37,949 registered pharmacists, including:

  • 33,359 with general registration
  • 3,081 with provisional registration
  • 30 with limited registration
  • 1,479 with non-practising registration.

There are 120 pharmacists who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, 0.3 per cent of the profession.

For further data breakdowns by division, age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board's Statistics page.

Regulation at work

Latest court and tribunal cases

We publish summaries of court and tribunal cases for their educational value to the profession.

Pharmacist cancelled for possessing prescription medication illegally and offering to supply drugs

A South Australian pharmacist has had his registration cancelled and is disqualified from applying for registration until November 2025 for unlawfully possessing prescription medication belonging to his employer and offering to supply drugs and prescription medication to associates.

Read more in the news item.

What’s new?

Myths and misconceptions about notifications – getting the help you need

Too often, practitioners struggle in silence when they are dealing with a health, mental health or drug and alcohol issue – or even just the day-to-day challenges of being a health practitioner.

The best thing you can do – for yourself, for your family, and for your clients – is to seek help early and to actively engage in recommended treatments. This might be from your own GP, another health practitioner or from one of the many independent practitioner support services available.

There is a common misconception that if you seek help, your treating practitioner will automatically be required to report you to Ahpra and your registration may be affected.

The threshold for when treating practitioners need to make a mandatory notification about health is only necessary when the public is at substantial risk of harm. The need for a mandatory notification to be made is not often met.

If you are managing your health and getting the help you need, you can usually continue to practise. The Board wants you to be healthy and safe to practise and encourages you to seek help early when you need support.

Greater protections for patients in Western Australia as National Law changes are enacted

Health practitioner regulation and public protection were further strengthened in Western Australia recently, following the passage and enactment of changes to the National Law as it applies in that state. 

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Application Act was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia on 9 May and is now an Act of Parliament.

It contains a suite of changes, including protecting the title ‘surgeon’ when used by medical practitioners. It also allows Ahpra and the National Boards to issue a statement warning the public about individual practitioners, when there is a serious, unmanaged risk to public health and safety.

The Act brings Western Australia into greater alignment with the other states and territories. The Act also establishes a mechanism for WA to adopt any future changes to the National Law, while retaining the ability to make modifications and disallow amendments as necessary.

Most of these changes have started, with some to start later this year on a date to be agreed by governments. For more information about these changes, please visit the Ahpra National Law amendments page

Mandatory reporting obligations for all WA registered health practitioners have not changed.

Stay in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Pharmacy Board website for news about the profession, information on the National Scheme and for registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets.
  • Lodge an online enquiry.
  • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9125 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to the Chair, Pharmacy Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3000.
Page reviewed 26/06/2024