As important as the doctors who prescribe them, medicines play a vital role in the big health picture.
Particularly for people living with chronic conditions, medications can mean the difference between going to work or staying in bed. From being able to enjoy life, rather than just bear it.
Sadly, Tasmania has some of the highest rates of many chronic conditions including arthritis, asthma, cancer, heart, stroke and vascular disease and osteoporosis. So it's fair to say that for a large proportion of the population, ensuring reliable, timely and affordable access to a wide range of medicines is high on the priority list.
This is where the federal government's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme comes in, and on a local level - community pharmacists.
The Community Pharmacy Agreement is re-evaluated every five years and sets the path for pharmacists in their ability to provide medicines. Many consumers might not think about the politics that inevitably land their medications on a pharmacy shelf, but the agreement marks a significant cog in the broader health system wheel.
Significantly, the latest deal which came into effect this week recognises many of the challenges facing regional, rural and remote pharmacies - particularly around supply and demand.
Among other things, it ensures patients can still get prescription medications assessed under the PBS from a community chemist, no matter where they live. After all, there is little point in subsidising a medication if a person can't access it.
Pharmacists are not doctors, and in the words of Pharmacy Guild of Tasmania president John Dowling, they are not trying to "steal" a GP's job. But pharmacists do have a vital role to play and in the context of an already overstretched health system, any steps that help alleviate pressure and encourage efficiency should be encouraged.
Everyone should be able to access essential, affordable medicines when and where they need them. There are 150 community pharmacies in Tasmania and we can't afford to lose them.