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The Australian National Medicine Policy was launched in December 1999 (Department of Health, 2020). It is a step to ensure that people are using medicines wisely and have easy access to them. This policy is highly relevant to the nurse, pharmacists, and other health professionals along with the patients to ensure that everyone is up-to-date with the use of medicines. This report will evaluate the Australian Government Department of Health National Medicines Policy for its aims, outcomes, and various other factors. The recommendations will also be discussed in later sections of this report for the hospitals and health ministry to improved and better implementation and outcomes of the policy that ensures patient safety and delivery of quality care to the people.
According to the Department of Health (2020), health products and medicines are important for addressing improved quality of life and improved health problems. They form an essential component of the health system in treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of diseases. Therefore the Australian government has launched a national medicine policy intending to improve the health outcomes of all the Australians with the wise use of medicines and an easy to health products. The policy has 4 central objectives: quality use of medicines, maintaining a viable medicine industry, meeting with the standards if security, safety and quality, and timely access to medicines at a reasonable cost by everyone. Thereby, meeting up with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines as well that states – medicines are affordable, dispensed, and prescribed appropriately (World Health Organization, 2020). This ensures that the patients are provided with quality care by reducing the risks of over-doses, medication errors, under-doses, and various other benefits.
The national medicine policy in Australia was implemented in 1999 and was reviewed in October 2019. The aim is to improve the health outcomes of all the Australians with the wise use of medicines and an easy to health products. The policy has 4 central objectives: quality use of medicines, maintaining a viable medicine industry, meeting with the standards if security, safety and quality, and timely access to medicines at a reasonable cost by everyone. The proposed impacts are the needs of the patents with availability to them at the lowest cost, quality and safe care of the patients, access to the health care services to the patients, and many others. These are achieved with time with the collaborative efforts of government, non-government, and other social workers. There have been many changes since the implementation of the national medicine policy in Australia like the government is known to help low-income patients in their treatment and their access to health care services and many others. These have been discussed in later sections of this report.
Medicines play a major role in restoring, maintaining, and protecting people’s health. The medicine policy provides various short, medium, and long term impacts/outcomes. The medicine policy meets the needs of the patents with availability to them at the lowest cost leading to the rational use of medicines resulting in an effective and positive impact on the health of the patients that will ultimately end up with improved health. The short term positive impacts are - the hospitals and distributers can dispense the medicines to the patients at a reasonable cost making it available to every citizen and as there is a reduced chance of medication errors with wise usage so there is less stay of patients in the hospitals. The medium-term impacts are - both government and non-government organizations are involved as stakeholders in policy, so their programs will spread awareness among the people. The consumers, media, and other industries will take part in positive outcome impacts in the progress of the policy, ensuring the delivery of quality care. The long term impact is – quality and safety of the patients in healthcare will be ensured as a long-term impact.
According to the World Health Organization (2020), the national medicine policy in Australia was implemented in 1999 and was reviewed in October 2019. The medicines are cheaper in Australia and there are 36% cost differences among the 13 common generic drugs in Australia. Thereby, stating that the medicines are available at a cheaper rate to the patients in Australia. According to Cobiac et al. (2017), there has been over-prescription of anti-biotic medicines/drugs, analgesics, and anti-inflammatory medicines in Australia. So there is a need to ensure that the health professionals and the undergraduates are made aware of the wise and appropriate use of drugs and medicines. The hospitals and health centers are well stocked with medicines and drugs as well, ensuring that the pharmacists deliver appropriate medicines to the consumers only after prescriptions. According to Dineen-Griffin et al. (2020), the Australian medical system consists of both private and government hospitals. The government is known to help low-income patients in their treatment and their access to health care services. Everyone in Australia with a Medicare number can get almost free health care services like treatment or diagnosis in hospitals or other health centers that are run by the government. According to Gray et al. (2016), in a private hospital, the waiting time for elective (planned) surgery is shorter in Australia. They provide the patient with a more pleasant environment and private hospital cover also helps to get free medical care services as well. According to Tan et al. (2016), there has been a change in the use of medicines with the national medicine policy as the health professionals are more responsible along with patients towards the appropriate use of medicines. The over-the-counter deliveries of medicines have been stopped in cases of dementia patients, where without the doctors’ prescription no medicine is dispensed. According to Morris (2018), significant changes were seen in Australian medical systems, medicine subsidies, and the other pharmaceutical industry. The people also expect to get safe and quality health care, this is ensured by reducing their out-of-pocket costs. The people are also living longer and a safe and healthy environment is provided to them by increasing care services at patient’s homes (McLachlan & Aslani, 2020).
There have been many changes since the implementation of the national medicine policy in Australia. According to the University of South Australia (2018), with the implementation of the policy the marketing has improved for – prescription of medicines and over-the-counter medicines dispenses. The annual growth rate of 11% is observed in the Australian pharmaceutical industry for the past 11 years. The annual private and public expenditure on medicines is high. However, there are still some sectors that need to be balanced equality like the populations of aboriginals, mentally ill, old and other vulnerable sections of the population are sometimes not getting equal access to quality health services and care. Furthermore, the impacts are policy has resulted in improved health, quality care, and positive effects on health of the Australians.
There are some recommendations for the ministry, government, and non-government organizations regarding the policy so that a better result can be expected in the future. The migrants, indigenous Australians, older frail people, chronically ill, and mentally ill patients should be focused on while implementing the policy. The digital systems should be set up to ensure that the patients get access to diagnosis, medication, and treatment-related information on their phones or laptops online. The health ministry should timely evaluate the health systems and update the changes. The pharmacy industries should focus on the development of generic medicines. The nursing graduates should be trained with complete knowledge about the wise and proper use of medicines and the patients should not be provided with multiple medicines as it might lead to overdose errors.
The Australian National Medicine Policy was launched in December 1999. This policy has resulted in many short, medium and long term impacts like the hospitals and distributers can dispense the medicines to the patients at a reasonable cost making it available to every citizen, quality and safety of the patients in the healthcare will be ensured as a long-term impact and many others. The policy has resulted in improved health, quality care, and positive effects on health of the Australians. The medicines are cheaper in Australia and there are 36% cost differences among the 13 common generic drugs in Australia. Although, some recommendations are there in the policy they can be settled with collaborative efforts of hospitals, ministry, and others.
Cobiac, L. J., Tam, K., Veerman, L., & Blakely, T. (2017). Taxes and subsidies for improving diet and population health in Australia: A cost-effectiveness modelling study. PLoS Medicine, 14(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002232
Department of Health. (2020). National Medicines Policy Document. Retrieved from: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/national-medicines-policy
Department of Health. (2020). National Medicines Policy. Retrieved from:https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/National+Medicines+Policy-1?Open=&utm_source=health.gov.au&utm_medium=redirect&utm_campaign=digital_transformation&utm_content=nationalmedicinespolicy
Dineen-Griffin, S., Benrimoj, S. I., & Garcia-Cardenas, V. (2020). Primary health care policy and vision for community pharmacy and pharmacists in Australia. Pharmacy Practice, 18(2). https://dx.doi.org/10.18549%2FPharmPract.2020.2.1967
Gray, M., Malott, A., Davis, B. M., & Sandor, C. (2016). A scoping review of how new midwifery practitioners transition to practice in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom and The Netherlands. Midwifery, 42, 74-79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2016.09.018
McLachlan, A. J., & Aslani, P. (2020). National Medicines Policy 2.0: A vision for the future. Australian Prescriber, 43(1), 24. https://dx.doi.org/10.18773%2Faustprescr.2020.007
Morris, S. (2018). Medicine shortages in Australia–what are we doing about them?. Australian prescriber, 41(5), 136. https://dx.doi.org/10.18773%2Faustprescr.2018.047
Tan, Y. X., Moles, R. J., & Chaar, B. B. (2016). Medicine shortages in Australia: Causes, impact and management strategies in the community setting. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, 38(5), 1133-1141. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11096-016-0342-1
University of South Australia. (2018). Australia’s National Medicines Policy. Retrieved from: http://www.health.gov.au/nmp/objectives/policy.htm
World Health Organization. (2020). National Medicine Policy. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/medicines/areas/technical_cooperation/supply_management/nat_med_pol/en/#:~:text=TCM%20supports%20countries%20to%20develop,and%20a%20guide%20for%20action.
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