Amazon on the move


A Guild leader says the organisation will do “whatever it takes” to defend the current pharmacy model, as Amazon applies for another health trademark

Amazon has reportedly filed an application for the “BasicCare” trademark in Australia, which would apply to a range of over-the-counter medicines it owns.

Currently, Australians can buy other brands of some OTCs from Amazon’s local website.

The application for this trademark was filed just days before the Pharmacy Guild is due to lodge its statement of grounds for its opposition to the “Amazon Pharmacy” trademark, which was applied for earlier this year.

The Guild has until June 4 to lodge its statement of grounds and particulars.

Its Victorian branch president, Anthony Tassone, told the AJP that it will strongly oppose Amazon’s application for the Amazon Pharmacy trademark, and will continue to argue for pharmacist-only ownership.

“The pharmacist owned model of pharmacies in Australia has done and continues to serve the Australian community very well and particularly so during the recent challenges of the bushfire crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Tassone said.

“Community pharmacies across Australia kept their doors open and turned up every day and were there for their patients and communities – and the pharmacist owned ownership model was a big contributor to this.

“The Australian public trust their local pharmacist, are satisfied with the service they receive from their local pharmacy and are open to community pharmacies having a greater role in healthcare – particularly seen with a record number of flu vaccinations delivered by pharmacies this year.”

He said that in previous consumer surveys, Australians have shown a “clear” preference for health professionals owning their own practices.

Mr Tassone said the Guild was not opposed to change, but opposed to change in the ownership rules.

“COVID-19 has forced many businesses to innovate, adapt and change – with community pharmacy being no exception,” he said.

“More and more pharmacies are expanding their home delivery services for patients, having greater patient engagement through the use of technology which will only continue with the introduction of e-prescriptions. 

“Pharmacists are accountable to patients and our regulatory board, the Pharmacy Board of Australia through our registration – while publicly listed companies and corporates are accountable to their shareholders first and foremost.

“For all of these reasons, the Guild will do whatever it takes to defend a world class community pharmacy model that has served patients so well for so long.

“Over 4000 individual pharmacists having an ownership interest in the approximately 5,700 community pharmacy network in Australia makes for a very competitive landscape in the delivery of medicines, health products and services,” Mr Tassone said.

He noted that in the United States, class action law suits are being filed against Amazon including a suit in the U.S District of Washington which alleges that: “Amazon has obtained monopoly power in the US retail e-commerce market, as demonstrated by its power to set the prevailing prices of the vast majority of consumer goods offered for sale on the internet and that it exercises extraordinary control over millions of its online retail competitors.”

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, iNews reports that the online giant’s application for the name Amazon Pharmacy, filed with the Intellectual Property Office in January, has now reached the status of “application published”.

This means that the UK trademark could be registered as early as July, depending whether stakeholders take advantage of an up to three-month window in which it can be challenged.

A 2017 AJP poll found that most respondents (39%) did not support Amazon entering the pharmacy arena in Australia, and a further 24% said that Amazon is wholly incompatible with pharmacy as a sector.

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4 Comments

  1. Bruce ANNABEL
    03/06/2020

    Amazon is a sophisticated global product supply giant using both on-line and also cross channel with their own bricks and mortar stores including the USA based Whole Foods Market group they bought a few years ago. Pharmacy has had a history of what were thought to be ‘sophisticated’ dominant retailers to be kept out of the community pharmacy tent such as Terry White in the late 80’s and then under 20 years ago Priceline. These groups have all since been allowed into the tent because some pharmacists voted with their feet attracted by the different offer that suited their ideals. However, the ultimate sophisticated pharmacy retailer Chemist Warehouse that began 20 years this month has overshadowed the market place along with the even more sophisticated supermarket retails and soon perhaps even Amazon. Anthony Tassone and the Guild, acting on behalf of most owners, are right in their attempts to resist Amazon’s entry as have other countries. But if they do get in perhaps via an ‘alliance’ traditional pharmacy’s number one best defense is ‘helping patients’ improve their medication, management and health through pharmacist professional service, not discounting which is a mug’s game.

  2. Paul Sapardanis
    03/06/2020

    Having a professional own a professional business is always better than a corporate owned professional business. Do we have that in pharmacy at the moment though? ( and I don’t mean just the obvious one ). Currently we have a situation where an advantage is created by thd corporate structure over the independent. Is this fair?

    • Michael Post
      03/06/2020

      Pharmacy in this country is corporatised – the very action location rules sought to avoid. The day of local ownership ,local accountability is by and large gone. The guild argument that consumers are best served under current legislation does not meet the reality of pharmacies run under management and rural pharmacies that get a twice yearly owner visit.

  3. TALL POPPY
    03/06/2020

    Honestly, Pharmacy is heavily corporatised. Very heavily. And it has been driven by pure greed. A greed that has benefited from location and ownership rules. Amazon will take aim at corporate pharmacy. The money will be made in high GP, independent pharmacy (so long as they can maintain their buying power with collective arrangements). Real pharmacy. The satisfaction of owing one will be highly sought after – especially those that are super successful.

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