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Parliamentary Inquiry recognises special nature of community pharmacy

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The P H A R M A C Y G U I L D o f A U S T R A L I A


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Parliamentary Inquiry Recognises Special Nature of Community Pharmacy

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is extremely pleased that the report tabled yesterday by the Joint Parliamentary Inquiry into the Retailing Sector recognises the special nature of the services provided by community pharmacy and has made a specific recommendation that chain stores such as supermarkets not expand into this area. Recommendation 8 from the Report reads -

The Committee recommends that major supermarket chains take note of widespread community and pharmaceutical industry concerns that the nature o f the role played by pharmacists is unique, as it relates to matters o f public health. The Committee is therefore o f the view that expansion by the major chains into the dispensing o f pharmaceutical products should be discouraged.

John Bronger, President of the Pharmacy Guild, said that he was particularly delighted that the Parliamentary Committee had made this public statement at this time. Pharmacy legislation is currently being reviewed under National Competition Policy requirements and one of the issues under scrutiny is the requirement that pharmacies be owned only by registered pharmacists.

"I would expect that the recommendation by the Parliamentary Inquiry would need to be taken on board by the Review in its deliberations about pharmacy ownership," Mr Bronger said.

"The Committee has recognised that the system of community pharmacy in Australia is one of the best in the world and should not be changed. Having pharmacists as proprietors ensures that consumers are provided with the same access to quality health care pharmacy services no matter

where they live in Australia.

"There are almost 5,000 community pharmacies throughout urban, rural and regional Australia, a system which would change if ownership were deregulated and supermarkets were allowed to own pharmacies," Mr Bronger said.

"Community pharmacies vigorously compete with each other both in the service and the price of the product they provide to consumers. Pharmacy is truly competitive, which is not what can be said about the rest of the retail sector where the three main chains dominate the market," he said.

Mr Bronger noted that the Parliamentary Report had put forward some recommendations to address the market dominance enjoyed by the large chains but regretted that it had not been able to produce a real solution to assist small business in this regard.

He congratulated the Committee for their recognition of the need to ensure that the present system of community pharmacy is not destroyed by the movement of supermarkets into this area.

31 August 1999

For further infortnation/comment, contact Wendy Phillips, the Guild's Director of Policy on 6270 1888.


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