A new campaign by three of Australia's top consumer organisations is urging people not to sign a petition now on many pharmacy counters across the nation, including the Illawarra.
The Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF), Choice, and the Australian Council of Social Service have launched an awareness campaign to highlight the high price of prescription medicines.
They claim Australians are paying some of the highest prices for medicines in the world - in some cases up to 10 times the British price for the same drug.
They are urging people not to sign the petition released by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia last week in response to federal government changes to its pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
As part of its economic statement on August 2, the government announced it was speeding up its price disclosure policy so the prices of off-patent medicines dropped sooner and more often.
The Pharmacy Guild estimated that under the streamlined policy, pharmacies would on average lose $88,000 in 2014-15 through lost mark-up, when added to existing price change arrangements.
CHF chief executive Carol Bennett said pharmacies received $3 billion a year from the government to dispense PBS medicines.
"Right now many health consumers are having to decide between paying for a prescription or putting food on the table," she said.
"We've got to reduce the cost of medicines, not artificially inflate them to satisfy the obvious profit motives of pharmacy owners."
Ms Burnett said despite the price-disclosure measures introduced six years ago, Australians still pay inflated prices.
"The Australian government already tends to set higher prices for drugs than other countries," she said.
"We simply can't afford to weaken the policy of price disclosure."
Illawarra Pharmacist Association spokesman Tim Hewitt said the consumer campaign was ill-conceived and misleading.
"The pharmacists have no problem with price disclosure, and no problem with the prices of medications coming down - that's a good thing," he said.
"What we are trying to do is to get the government to stick to the agreement they made to carry out price disclosure in a fashion that allows pharmacies to adjust to it.
"If they are going to speed up the price cuts - which will reduce the income we receive from mark-up - we need an adjustment in our dispensing fees to compensate for that."
Mr Hewitt said he was disappointed the consumer organisations had banded together to "tear down" pharmacies.
"If they were really doing what was best for consumers, they would want pharmacies to be viable, accessible and to be able to keep on delivering a wide range of free and add-on services. If they get what they want and pharmacy services and staff are cut, and some pharmacies have to close, it's the consumers that will miss out."