The Pharmacy Guild has again slammed the findings of the Competition Policy Review following the Government’s release of its response to the review.
The Government will partly or wholly adopt 44 of the review’s 56 recommendations, but there will be no immediate changes to the pharmacy ownership and location rules. The location rules remain in place under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement and are to be reviewed under the Agreement’s terms with a final report due on 1 March 2017.
The Government reponse noted the Harper review’s recommendation that the ownership and location rules be removed.
“The Government also encourages states and territories to consider the appropriateness of existing restrictions on pharmacy ownership in pursuing public policy objectives,” says its response.
The Guild issued a statement, saying the Harper Review “did not produce any serious empirical evidence to demonstrate that opening up pharmacy to the big supermarkets would produce any net benefit to patients”.
“In contrast, the Pharmacy Guild delivered a comprehensive independent cost benefit analysis to Harper which demonstrated a very large social and economic loss of more than $700 million a year would result from the deregulation of pharmacy,” the Guild says.
“The Guild and community pharmacy small businesses around Australia will continue to defend a model that has the overwhelming support of the Australian population. Consumer surveys time and again make it clear that around 90% of Australians strongly support and value local pharmacies.
“The current model of community pharmacy serves the nation extremely well – providing a high-quality essential health service for consumers and value for money for consumers.”
The Guild says its evidence to Harper clearly demonstrated that pharmacies are delivering high levels of access, choice, competition, equity and quality for consumers.
“It showed that far from limiting access and choice, the community pharmacy model provides near universal access, high quality service and choice for consumers.
“For example, 87% of Australians live within 2.5km of at least one pharmacy. This level of access to pharmacies is higher than for supermarkets, banks and medical centres in both capital cities and in regional areas.
“In relation to pharmacy ownership, State and Territory governments have consistently reaffirmed their support for the current model because they recognise the benefits and safeguards it delivers for consumers.
“Australia’s 5510 community pharmacies need certainty and stability – not a constant push to dismantle a system that’s working so well.”