Pharmacists Key to COVID-19 Strategy

State, Territory and Federal Governments cannot afford to sideline pharmacists, as part of their plans to contain and manage the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Pharmacy Guild of Australia National Vice President, Trent Twomey believes.  Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Twomey said emergency measures should be implemented to enable pharmacists to provide common Schedule 4 medicines without a prescription, to alleviate pressure on GPs.

“The last thing you want to do in a pandemic is create a cluster where sick people congregate with people with the virus,” he said.  “Frankly State and Federal Governments can’t afford not to utilise the pharmacy workforce.”

Twomey said taking advantage of the profession’s geographic reach and 100,000-strong workforce made up of 35,000 pharmacists and 65,000 pharmacy assistants, “is something we should be doing anyway”, noting Australia was an outlier in terms of the pharmacists’

limited scope of practice compared to their peers in other developed countries.

“All of the evidence says that community pharmacists are the most accessible component of the primary healthcare system in Australia, with 90% of Australians living within 2km of a pharmacy - and over half trade extended hours such as overnight and on weekends,” he said.

Victorian Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, has voiced support for having pharmacists actively involved in managing the threat posed by the virus. “[Pharmacists] play a vital role in our health system and their involvment in our response to COVID-19 is being considered as part of our broader contingency planning,” she said.

Despite support for pharmacists playing a greater role in the health system, Australian Medical Association President, Tony Bartone, suggested the Guild was attempting to take advantage of a public health crisis, to enable its members boost their revenue.

“While the medical profession is getting on with trying to deal with the effects and help the Australian public to prepare for the oncoming epidmic, I’m really troubled by the Guild trying to expand the scope of their business,” he said.

Source:, viewed 4 March 2020