If pensioners are eyeing an opportunity to buy discounted medicines starting next year, they will not see any benefit in the long run, warns the Pharmacy Guild. The warning from the powerful pharmacists was issued on Monday and comes right after Chemist Warehouse announced a $1 discount on prescription medicines starting Jan 1, 2016. However, why is there no benefit in availing the discount offered?

It’s all because of the $366 safety net threshold. According to Sky News, the guild has opposed the discount by arguing that the optional discount will make the sickest and the most medicine-dependent persons suffer. It will delay the access of these people to free medicines as it will take longer for them to reach that $366 mark. Guild spokesman Greg Turnbull said that concessional patients would need an extra 11 prescriptions to fill so they can reach the safety net.

If a 12-month period is considered, pensioners will not be better off if the discount is availed. Moreover, consumers might also be misled into believing they are gaining from the discount. Turnbull added that some patients will also find it difficult to reach the safety net due to the government’s decision of removing certain painkillers and over-the-counter medicines off the PBS.

Until now, pharmacists are required to charge a set fee for all prescription medicines. For general patients, it is $37.70 and $6.10 for concession patients. The amounts are set to rise to $6.20 and $38.30 next year.

However, from January 2016, the pharmacists will also have the option of laying a discount of $1 on prescription medicines. This falls under the new $19 billion federal government’s five-year agreement. This will help pharmacists to dispense drugs that are listed on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. This optional discount of $1 that is about to come out of the pharmacist coffers can save taxpayers, over a period of five years, $360 million worth of money.

Some patients mostly in rural areas will, however, miss out on the discount as not all pharmacists will offer it. Sussan Ley, Health Minister says that competition will be increased as a result of the discount, reports 9News.com.au.

Contact the writer of this story at feedback@ibtimes.com.au or let us know what you think below.