Community pharmacies are an important part of our primary healthcare system.
As qualified healthcare practitioners, pharmacists help you understand what your medicines are for and how to take them. This includes prescription and non-prescription (over the counter) medicines or dietary supplements.
They can issue emergency supplies of ongoing prescription medicines, free emergency contraceptive pills, administer first aid and offer healthcare advice. Some can conduct procedures such as influenza vaccinations and throat swabs.
What you will pay for at a community pharmacy
Most of the cost of prescription medicines and advice from your pharmacist is paid by your local district health board (DHB).
You may be asked to pay a contribution towards the total cost.
This co-payment is usually $5 (including GST) for each medicine on the prescription. There is no co-payment for:
- collecting any repeats available on a prescription which the pharmacy has already filled at least once
- medicines prescribed for children under 13 years of age
- medicines prescribed for anyone in a family that holds a Prescription Subsidy Card.
You should not pay more than the normal co-payment unless for:
- a prescription written by a doctor or other prescriber who is not funded by the DHB or Ministry of Health (eg, a private specialist), for which the co-payment can be up to $15
- a prescription for a medicine which is not fully-subsidised by PHARMAC (usually there is another fully-subsidised medicine available)
- an additional service you require or request from the pharmacy, eg. dispensing from a faxed prescription, dispensing outside normal business hours, for home delivery of medicines or for dose packaging.
Ask the pharmacist to explain any additional charge you do not expect or understand. Pharmacists are obliged to explain any additional charges, including how you can avoid them.