BITTER PILL: It's hard to swallow the difference in price between the same prescriptions bought in Bundaberg and Bargara. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
BITTER PILL: It's hard to swallow the difference in price between the same prescriptions bought in Bundaberg and Bargara. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

Medicine prices hit elderly

ELDERLY people are suffering from a large discrepancy in the prices of some prescription medicines in Bargara and Bundaberg.

The NewsMail was alerted to a problem by a person who found she was paying almost twice the price for the same drugs in Bargara than in Bundaberg.

Association of Independent Retirees Bundaberg branch president Eddie Childs said the message, as with everything, was to shop around.

"But for a lot of them, when they hit 75 plus, it becomes extremely difficult for them to do that," he said.

"Transport is a major problem."

Mr Childs said for a lot of the association members mobility was a major problem.

"Even getting to the doctor can be a problem for some people," he said.

Robyn Hansen, who runs Pharmacy Central in Bargara, said she had run the business for 25 years.

"It is a smaller town and we offer as many products and services as we can to our local community, including extended trading hours of 8am to 6pm seven days a week," she said.

"Some pharmacies have models where they can buy a limited range of products in bigger quantities, different brands, and also receive better trading terms.

"We try and be as competitive on price as we can."

Ms Hansen said it could be difficult to constantly monitor the local prices being charged for prescription drugs, but she appreciated customer feedback to alert them to any anomalies, and responded to their queries accordingly.

"What I offer my customers is time, attention and quality health care advice," she said.

"Now that this price discrepancy has been brought to my attention, I will certainly take the opportunity to review the pharmacy pricing in order to keep medicines as affordable as possible."

A spokesman for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said they had no role in the price setting of medicines.

"Many medicines, such as rosuvastatin, are listed on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme," he said.

"Consumers can visit www.pbs.gov.au and look up listed medicines where they will see the maximum price for which they can be sold.

"This price is decided on and regulated by the Federal Government and will count towards your Medicare safety net. PBS-subsidised medicines are the same price at every PBS-licensed pharmacy."

He recommended consumers go to the pharmacy where they received the best advice about their medicines and health, and to discuss medicine prices with their pharmacist.



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