Pharmacy guild says changes will only benefit govt

PENSIONERS collecting their prescriptions at pharmacies can access discounts of up to $1 per script after changes that took effect on January 1.

The reforms mean some pensioners will be able to pay $5.20 instead of the standard $6.20 for their PBS scripts.

However Pharmacy Guild of Australia executive director David Quilty said the measure would have little net benefit for pensioners and mean big savings for the government, which has estimated it will save $373 million over four years.

He said the change would mean concession card holders whose pharmacies offer them the discount will not hit the $372 free medicine threshold until later in the year, effectively leaving pharmacists to absorb the cost.

Businesses processing an average number of scripts could lose up to $40,000 a year as a result of the measure.

Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley said pensioners, who represented about 80% of scripts filled, could save up to $70 each year.

Ms Ley said the PBS threshold would remain at $372 for concessional patients and $1475.70 for general patients.