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Pharmacists will be allowed to prescribe repeats of the pill under trial

Women will be able to get access to the pill when their prescription runs out without heading back to the doctor under a new trial.

It comes after a parliamentary inquiry investigated the establishment of a pharmacy council and pharmacists’ scope of practice.

Queensland Health will roll out a statewide trial to allow pharmacists to provide once-off repeat prescriptions of the contraceptive pill and antibiotics for urinary tract infections.

Health Minister Steven Miles said Queensland Health would work with industry stakeholders to develop a trial.

The scope of the trial, including when it will start and how many pharmacies will be involved, is yet to be announced.

Expanding the duties of Queensland pharmacists, including allowing them to deliver more vaccinations and issue low-risk prescriptions, will require changes to legislation.

The Queensland Health trial was revealed in the state government’s official response to a report from the parliamentary committee which conducted the inquiry.

Mr Miles said the government had accepted all the inquiry’s recommendations.

In October, the committee recommended Queensland Health develop options to provide low-risk emergency and repeat prescriptions, such as repeats of the contraceptive pill, and low-risk vaccinations, such as travel shots, through pharmacies.

The committee suggested the changes could include limits on the number of times a prescription could be issued, for example, only once in a six-month period, and consultation with a GP via 13HEALTH.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has previously proposed pharmacists should be able to dispense drugs over the counter for uncomplicated ear or urinary tract infections, erectile dysfunction, skin conditions and migraines, so patients did not need to see a doctor for a prescription.

The Guild also suggested pharmacists could fill repeat prescriptions for medicines such as the contraceptive pill.

However, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Queensland chair Dr Bruce Willett has said there was a concern pharmacists directly profited from prescriptions in a retail environment, whereas doctors had no financial interest in prescribing medications.

In 2016, the Palaszczuk government changed the law to allow pharmacists to deliver vaccines to adults, including flu, measles and mumps, following a two-year trial.

Earlier this month, Mr Miles announced 16- and 17-year-olds could now get vaccinated for influenza, whooping cough and measles at a pharmacy without parental consent.

Previously, only GPs could vaccinate under-18s.

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