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March 2002 issue Pharmacy Today magazine

$145,000 IN INTEREST

An accountant's nightmare is the reason given for some pharmacies waiting up to two-years to be paid for hospital-only medicines.

Last month, 822 pharmacies were finally paid a total of $1.93 million by the Ministry of Health. About $145,000 of the payment was interest.

Ministry deputy director-general for DHB funding and performance, Gordon Davies says Health Benefits had to calculate the amount of individual drugs within different hospital-only categories dispensed during the transition period, February 2000 to August 2001.

Changes to the Pharmac Schedule had to be factored-in, as pharmaceuticals came and left the Hospital-only lists.

This was compounded, he says, by the number of different funding arrangements for pharmacies in the Triple Region before the hospital-only medicines agreement, which was began in September 2001. Because of the intricate process, considerable checking had to be made to ensure amounts paid were correct.

The Pharmacy Guild, which has been lobbying the ministry to pay up, remains unimpressed.

Guild chief executive Murray Burns says pharmacy helped the ministry out with supplying hospital-only medicines and the payment saga has been "disgraceful."

Meeting payment for services is an obligation, with few professions or businesses having to put up with such a protracted payment process, he says.

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