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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2527 ..

Wednesday, 8 August 2001

MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Pharmacy Amendment Bill 2001

Ms Tucker , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MS TUCKER (10.33): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, for many years in Australia there has been a general presumption that the pharmacies we see in our shopping centres are owned by the registered pharmacists who work within them. In fact, all state pharmacy legislation limits the ownership of pharmacies to pharmacists.

However, in recent years concern has arisen within the pharmacy profession about the potential for corporations with no particular pharmacy connections to take over the operation of pharmacies and run them as a retail business. For example, a supermarket could operate a pharmacy section within its premises in the same way as it might have a bakery or delicatessen, or a company may want to set up its own chain of pharmacies.

This concern came to a head when the state and Commonwealth governments agreed through COAG to undertake a national competition policy review of national pharmacy legislation. This review was completed in early 2000 and came to be known as the Wilkinson review. This review concluded that there is a net public benefit in the existing system of pharmacy ownership, even though this could be considered as a restriction on competition.

The review concluded that the ownership of pharmacies by pharmacists ensured the highest standard of provision of this important health care service. Non-pharmacist corporate structures are more likely to focus on maximising commercial returns-for example, through encouraging greater sales in medicinal and health care products-thus leading to overservicing. Overseas experience also shows that chain store types of pharmacies do little of the across-the-counter counselling that independent pharmacies provide.

The present system of pharmacy ownership also promotes better accountability. A pharmacist who runs their own pharmacy has a personal as well as a professional interest in operating their business ethically. However, company directors of a chain store pharmacy would not have the same professional connections to the business and would not suffer direct financial loss if one of their pharmacists lost their registration. They could just employ a new pharmacist.

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