Sign our petition to end the pharmacy prescribing trial – 2000 doctors have so far

We urge you to add your name.

We are launching this petition to make clear the scale of the opposition across the medical profession to the North Queensland pharmacy prescribing trial.

The release of the protocols under which pharmacists will be working — protocols that allow the formal diagnosis and initiation of S4 medications to patients with no clinical oversight — justifies the RACGP’s accusation that it constitutes a real and present danger to patient safety.

The emergence of pharmacy prescribing of S4 drugs is a national medical issue, not one confined to Queensland alone.

We urge you to read the petition and add your name below. You can also share the following bitly link for your medical colleagues to sign –

Secretariat: Health Ministers Meeting

Federal, state and territory health ministers,

This petition, signed by doctors from across Australia, calls for the North Queensland pharmacy prescribing trial to be abandoned immediately.

There has been extensive discussion within the medical profession about the explicit dangers to patients resulting from misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment in pharmacies.

In its current form, the trial constitutes a radical experiment in medical care covering 600,000 people in some of the most vulnerable communities in Australia, including Indigenous communities.

Pharmacists with virtually no training in the complexities of differential diagnosis are being expected to diagnose, manage, prescribe and dispense drugs for conditions ranging from skin problems and acute nausea to asthma and COPD as well as heart disease risk factors.

This is a pharmacist model of care that has been tried nowhere else in Australia.

Given its novelty and scale, the program should have been formally registered as a clinical trial subject to ethics approval. Alarmingly, that is not the case.

Unbeknown to patients, this trial sits outside Australia’s normal regulatory framework for medical care. It has not been assessed or endorsed by the TGA, the PBAC, the Medical Board of Australia or by any medical college.  

The majority of patients involved will be unaware of the risks.

Allowing hundreds of health practitioners to prescribe and dispense S4 medications (including antibiotics) also dismantles the prescriber–dispenser divide, which was designed as a safety mechanism to identify medication errors and remove financial incentives for unnecessary prescribing.

Additionally, the program serves to further fragment the delivery of grassroots primary healthcare, at a time when integration, continuity and consolidation of care are considered essential to national health policy reform.

All health systems need to evolve — to provide better care, more cost-efficient care and to provide care in ways that are easier to access for patients.

This petition is not a rejection of reform rooted in evidence.

It is a rejection of an experiment that puts our patients at unnecessary risk of harm.