The question of whether banner groups have too much power over owner pharmacists was raised in a panel session at APP
A recent Channel Nine news story claimed that pharmacists were under pressure to stock and sell complementary medicines whether they wanted to or not.
The story aired shortly before the controversial Four Corners piece, in which Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation Review chair Stephen King appeared and suggested that by selling CMs, pharmacists gave credence to unproven measures such as homeopathic vaccines.
The interactive session asked APP delegates whether they thought banner groups had too much power over pharmacy owners.
Roughly a third said banner groups were needed, nearly 20% said they were needed but agreed that they had too much power, nearly 44% said they should be held to a strict code, and around 5% said they had too much power.
As for the King Review discussion paper and its questions, including whether CMs should be sold in pharmacy at all, the results were clear: nobody said the paper was good overall, and around 50% said it should just be binned.
“One of the things that frustrates me sometimes, either through the media or conversations that come through that somehow by being part of a franchise, I no longer have responsibility accountability and ownership of my pharmacy,” said pharmacy owner Suzanne Schultz.
“And I think that’s something that we need to make very clear… We are working in partnership, we have support and systems, and a lot of advantages or value that comes from being part of a banner, but in the end, the pharmacy is my pharmacy and I need to make a decision that best served my community.”
“I can’t think of a better place for vitamins to be than in a pharmacy,” Lucy Walker said.
“I actually put the vitamins as soon as you walk in the door of my pharmacy, and it’s right beside my S2/S3 counter” so that a practitioner can recommend them, she added.
“I challenge you, if you don’t have the knowledge to get the knowledge, because as pharmacists we have these conversations.
“The report saying there’s no evidence behind it is just wrong. These supplements are what people want to take. We have the knowledge to have those health conversations with our patients.
“Don’t see this report as being, ‘oh no, we shouldn’t touch it because he says so,’ challenge him back and say ‘yes, we are in it, and we know about it, and we’re going to help our customers because they want knowledge about it, and we can provide it.”
Terry White Chemmart’s Anthony White said that the inclusion of the complementary medicines question in the Review discussion paper is “a function of the lack of framework and structure and thinking around the remit for the Review.”
“If the terms of reference and framework was more around leveraging the capacity and capability of these highly qualified front line professionals, this sort of question just would not come out.”
Mr White said stakeholders from across the sector need to work together to build a more collaborative model to work together in a more efficient manner, “and I think the franchising model can help support that”.