GP script restrictions questioned

RESTRICTIONS preventing GPs from dispensing medications have been questioned by a Curtin University study showing Australian doctors who dispense PBS medications issue fewer prescriptions than non-dispensing doctors.

The finding of the study – published in the MJA this week – compared PBS claims data of 72 dispensing GPs against data from 1080 of their non-dispensing colleagues.

The authors said the results were at odds with international research suggesting dispensing doctors prescribe more, rely less on generic medicines and use antibiotics less judiciously.

There are 80 Australian sites  where GPs have licences  to dispense their own prescriptions, where populations are too small to support pharmacies.

“Interviews with 22 of the dispensing doctors showed the lower prescribing rates were due to perceived expectations from the profession about prescribing norms” and a desire to cut down on paperwork, the

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