A Cleveland man says he was charged twice the retail price of vital medications by a hospital pharmacy

MEDICATION: Russell Walker was admitted to the Prince Charles Hospital as a public patient for an open heart surgery. Photo: Steve Holland
MEDICATION: Russell Walker was admitted to the Prince Charles Hospital as a public patient for an open heart surgery. Photo: Steve Holland

A CLEVELAND man has been left out-of-pocket after being charged more than double thechemist price for essential heart medications at a Metro North hospital.

Russell Walker was discharged from Prince Charles Hospital in May after having an open heart surgery and was prescribed eight different medications.

He has since bought more of the drugs from his local chemist at half the price he was charged by the public hospital.

Mr Walker said he was charged $129.35 by the hospital, only to find that he could buy the same medicines at his local chemist for about $60.

Spokespeople for the Metro North and South Hospital and Heath Services said all patients of Queensland public hospitals could elect to take prescriptions to hospital pharmacies or a community pharmacy, which could offer discounted prices.

Mr Walker said hospital staff had not made it clear that he had that choice.

"I saw someone from the pharmacy the day before I was discharged and she told me the drugs I was going to continue on," he said.

"There were eight drugs to do different things (and it was) all a bit confusing at the time.

"No one at any time told me who were supplying me with these drugs or who was going to pay for them."

A Metro North spokesperson said prices for prescribed medications issued to patients at public hospitals were standard across the health service.

A Redland Hospital spokesperson said Queensland Health standard pharmaceutical prices were generated through a state-wide dispensing program which was aligned with Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme charges.

On the PBS, people paid co-payments for listed medications and the government covered the remainder.

"It is possible that for some low-cost medicines, pharmacies are charging... less than the PBS price...but on the other hand, many medicines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and where these medicines are supplied under the PBS, the patient pays only $6.50 (concessional rates) or $40.30 (non-concessional rates) and the government covers the rest," a Health Department spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said pharmacies could charge whatever they liked for medicines on private scripts, those which were not part of the PBS safety net.

Mr Walker said people should consider all options before picking up their medication.

"If any hospital or doctor gives you advice you should ask who is going to pay and how much is it going to cost and ask if there is any alternative," he said.