Changing your pharmacy name?

Don’t forget that you need regulatory approval at both a state and federal level, says Sarah Stoddart

Changing the name of your pharmacy can be an exciting time. It might mean a new brand, colours and signage. However one task that is often overlooked in the change-of-name process is the need for regulatory approval.

It is a legislative requirement of most Australian States for the State regulator to be notified of the change of name of a pharmacy business and for the new name to be approved by the regulator. 

The relevant regulators and obligations to notify are as follows:

  • QLD – In Queensland, the regulator is Queensland Health. Under the Pharmacy Business Ownership Act 2001 (Qld), a pharmacy owner must give notice of the change of name of the pharmacy business within 21 days after the date of the change. Notification is made by submitting the prescribed form together with the required supporting documentation to Queensland Health. Failure to notify Queensland Health carries a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units.
  • NSW – In New South Wales, the regulator is the Pharmacy Council of New South Wales. In accordance with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW), a pharmacy owner must lodge the prescribed form together with the required supporting documents with the Council when the pharmacy changes its name. 
  • VIC – In Victoria, the regulator is the Victorian Pharmacy Authority. Pharmacy owners must notify the Authority within 14 days of any changes to the registered business name of their pharmacy business.
  • WA – In Western Australia, the regulator is the Pharmacy Registration Board of WA. Pursuant to Regulation 9 of the Pharmacy Regulations 2010, a pharmacy owner (or the pharmacist with overall responsibility for the pharmacy business either as proprietor or on behalf of the proprietor/s) must notify the Board of a change of business name within 14 days of the change by completing and lodging the prescribed form with the Board. Early notification is encouraged. At the time of writing, the fee for lodging the notification is $50.
  • SA – In South Australia, the regulator is the Pharmacy Regulation Authority SA. The Authority is established under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010.  Although there is no prescribed form for notification of change of business name, the Authority should be notified so the register can be correctly maintained.
  • TAS – In Tasmania, the regulator is the Tasmanian Pharmacy Authority. The Authority is established under the Pharmacy Control Act 2001 (Tas). Any change to the name of a pharmacy business in Tasmania must be formally advised to the Authority using the prescribed form. A new certificate of registration for the pharmacy premises will be issued by the Authority once the form has been lodged and accepted. There is no application fee.

The relevant State regulator is likely to check if the new pharmacy name is registered with ASIC and if so, that the owner of the name is the same as the owner of the pharmacy. If there are any inconsistencies, further information may need to be provided to explain the inconsistency.

In some States, penalties apply for failing to trade under and/or display the business name advised to the regulator.

In addition to notifying the relevant State regulator, the pharmacy owner must also notify the Australian Department of Health of the change of name of the pharmacy business. The notification must be made using the prescribed form and evidence of notification to (or approval from) the State regulator must also be submitted. The application must be lodged via the Health Data Portal. 

Once the Australian Department of Health has approved the change of name for the pharmacy business, the Department will issue an amended PBS approval certificate by email. The amended certificate will show the new name of the pharmacy business. The PBS approval number will not change.

Failure to notify the relevant regulators of the change of name of the pharmacy business may not only lead to a financial penalty under the relevant legislation but may also cause delays or confusion when the time comes to sell the pharmacy business to a third party. 

Business owners are also encouraged to ensure they comply with the requirements of the business name legislation that applies in their State. If you are not sure what legislation applies to you or how to register your business name, please seek independent legal advice.

If you have any queries regarding applications for a change of name of your pharmacy business or require assistance with an application, please contact Sarah Stoddart of Stoddart Legal on (07) 3370 0200. 

This article is intended to be for general information only. It does not constitute legal advice nor does it establish a relationship of client and lawyer. Specific circumstances or changes in law may vary the accuracy or applicability of the information published.

We recommend seeking specific legal advice particular to your circumstances before taking any action, or refraining from taking any action, on any issue dealt with in this article.

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