‘Chemist shop model’ criticised

pharmacist pharmacy

A prominent GP has suggested that pharmacy owners are acting less like health care providers and more like commercially driven retailers

Edwin Kruys, immediate past RACGP vice president and RACGP Queensland chair, has penned a piece in his Doctor’s Bag blog in which he asks, “Is community pharmacy on a road to nowhere?”

“Community pharmacy owners want to be taken seriously as healthcare providers yet, at the same time, they continue to behave like a commercial interest group,” writes Dr Kruys, in looking at the Government’s response to the King Review.

He writes that in order to be taken seriously, community pharmacy needs to “change tack”.

Dr Kruys singled out the King Review’s recommendation that homeopathy not be permitted to be sold in pharmacies, and that complementary medicines with a limited evidence base be separated in-store from the S2 and S3 area.

“Political donations and backdoor lobbying are still the norm in this industry,” he wrote.

He cited comments from the Guild’s president, George Tambassis, in which Mr Tambassis said the organisation looks forward to continuing to work with the Government; and from the Guild’s executive director, David Quilty, in which Mr Quilty said that the community pharmacy sector works well, so why “tinker unnecessarily with it?”

“The question is, does the chemist shop model work ‘very well’, or is it relying on lotions and potions, anti-competitive regulation and protection, lobbying and political donations to stay afloat?” wrote Dr Kruys.

He said that he agreed with a recent Australian Financial Review opinion piece by the Grattan Institute’s Stephen Duckett, in which Mr Duckett claimed the Government “totally squibbed” the King Review and slammed its “do-nothing response”.

This opinion piece was rebutted in a letter to the AFR editor by David Quilty, who said that its claims “could not be further from the truth”.

However Dr Kruys said regarding Mr Duckett’s comments regarding “the power of sectoral interest groups,” he could not agree more.

“I’m looking forward to the day the community pharmacy sector shakes its retail sales focus – but I’m not holding my breath,” he wrote.

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