New iPharmacy business model in Australia offers prescription drugs at cost prices.



"When a patient comes to us for help, money is the last thing on our minds,” is how sydneydrugs.com, a new online subscription pharmacy service which launched this week, sells itself to consumers.

The members-only service provides prescription medications at cost price in exchange for an annual subscription fee of $99, $199 or $449 a month, depending on how many extras you want.
“We’re a platform that gives Australians an opportunity to purchase pharmacy items without paying a profit margin to the pharmacy. We are all about making medications affordable,” the site promises.
Customers scan a copy of their prescription or send it in the post, order their drugs online and later receive them in the mail. Any questions they have about the medication are answered within 24 hours.
The website is the brain child of Sydney pharmacists Lindsey Clark and Sunit Ruparelia, who are both registered with industry regulator Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
Frustrated with the inflated and unpredictable cost of medications, the duo are undercutting local pharmacies and discount retailers like Chemist Warehouse.
“We don’t have overheads like your regular pharmacies do,” Mr Clark told news.com.au.
“Before Sunit became a pharmacist he was diagnosed with high cholesterol and he was sourcing his medication from overseas because of the prices here,” Mr Clark said.
“Working in pharmacies, we see that the prices vary so hugely depending on where you’re located. People in rural towns with only one pharmacy are having to pay so much, while in urban areas the prices are quite competitive.
Mr Clark cited an example of a woman living in a country town currently paying $25 for her medication. “She’s in a town with one pharmacy, so she has to pay it. But we can sell it to her for $4,” he said.
“We’re just offering an option for those people. There’s a lot of struggling families out there.”
Mr Clark says the premises where the drugs are stocked is regularly inspected by the Pharmacy Council of Australia.
But the main industry body is wary about the website. A Pharmacy Guild of Australia spokesman said patients should be “cautious” about a pharmacy model that sidesteps the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including its safety net provisions.
“While online pharmacy and prescription services may have some benefit for patients in very remote locations, generally Australians are better served by the network of 5600 local pharmacies distributed all over Australia, dispensing subsidised PBS medicines with a Government safety net,” the spokesman said.
“It seems from the list of medicines on the website that many of the more expensive PBS medicines would not be available under the proposed subscription system, so consumers are advised to be cautious.”
/ news.com.au 25-11-2016

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