Updated: Pathology giant pulls out of pharmacy screening deal after GP backlash


A pharmacy chain has been forced to suspend a controversial screening program, after its pathology partner pulled out following heavy criticism by doctors’ groups.

Sonic Healthcare yesterday announced its decision to withdraw as pathology provider for Amcal’s Pathology Health Screening Service in response to “feedback from the GP community”.

The program offers six screening packages including for ‘fatigue’ and ‘general health’ was panned by the AMA and RACGP, which claimed it would lead to unnecessary testing, fragmentation of care and potential conflict of interest concerns.

Sonic broke the news in a statement on Thursday, only weeks after the program was launched.

Related story: Conflict of interest concerns over pharmacy-ordered pathology tests

“The program was developed in line with the Health Department’s initiative to promote in-pharmacy health screening services, with the common goal of identifying at-risk patients not in treatment and referring them into the primary health care system,” the company said.

“However, many GPs expressed concerns about the initiative, and we have decided to withdraw from the program.”

Sigma will now seek another pathology provider to do the work, the company said in a statement.

“Whilst we understand the commercial pressures applied to Sonic and respect their decision, the suspension is disappointing particularly given how hard both parties worked on this Sonic collaboration.

“This pathology program is about empowering and motivating patients to manage their own health, including better engagement with their GP.

“Accessing these pathology testing services through a trained healthcare professional provides patients with a face to face contact able to help them understand their results – something that is not available through similar online services.”

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