Harper Review roundup: what stakeholders said

Four pharmacists collaborating: Harper Review

The Harper Review into competition policy made waves in the pharmacy sector this week, recommending the gradual removal of the rules governing community pharmacy ownership and location.

Reaction to the Review’s release was mixed, with some industry stakeholders rejecting the Review outright, while others welcomed the recommendations.

Here’s AJP’s roundup of its review coverage:


Embrace competition, it’s coming: review panel member Peter Anderson spoke to the AJP about the need for pharmacy as a sector to stop trying to block the recommended changes.

“The days of any industry sector mapping out where, when and by whom businesses in that sector are to be conducted is a relic of the last century,” he says. “We cannot map out where businesses should or should not operate, like putting pieces on a chessboard.

“We have a different consumer environment and a different level of expectation in the general community of freedom of people to enter markets.

“I am confident that the strength the pharmacy sector has, in the psychology of the consumer and in the trust they have, would place them in the best position of all smaller businesses for competition from chains.”

Click here for the full report.


Guild rejects pharmacy deregulation recommendations: The Pharmacy Guild slammed the report, saying 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 taxpayers.

“The alternatives proposed by the Panel to ensure equitable access to pharmacy services in regional areas are untested, not backed up by any evidence, and almost certainly impractical to implement,” says the Guild in a statement.

“It is disappointing the competition panel did not recognise the very strong evidence the Guild has provided to demonstrate the benefits of the tried, tested and trusted pharmacy model.”

Click here for the full report.


Union welcomes pharmacy deregulation move: Professional Pharmacists Australia CEO Chris Walton is urging the government to reconsider location rules as recommend in the Competition Policy Review Report.

“Pharmacists are backing a review into location rules because it will be a decision that puts patients first,” Walton says.

“When we add in location rules to the questions raised by the Auditor –General into the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement, we see a genuine opportunity to build a pharmacy model that supports clinically orientated pharmacists to improve health outcomes.”

Professional Pharmacists Australia supports ownership rules remaining, but says that opposition to reconsidering location rules and the traditional dispensing model is holding back employee and specialist pharmacists.

For the full report click here.


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: The current system of community pharmacy has been proven to serve the Australian community well and delivers equitable access to medicines as outlined under the National Medicines Policy, the PSA says.

National President Grant Kardachi says the system is not broken, and so does not need to be fixed.

“The current system of location rules ensures pharmacies are well distributed across Australia to serves the needs of the Australian community and ensures that  quality medicines’ use is provided to all Australians,” he says.

“I have yet to see evidence that a different system will produce greater benefits for the Australian community.

“In regards to ownership, the current limits on the number of pharmacies that can be owned are important as this ensures pharmacy owners are focused and committed on the health needs of consumers.”

Click here for the full report.


Extend 5CPA, accelerate price disclosure: The removal of “antiquated” pharmacy ownership and location rules have been supported by three national health groups, who have called for the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) to be extended for two years and for a further acceleration of price disclosure.

The Competition Policy Review’s call for removal of the current pharmacy ownership and location rules provide impetus for a substantial overhaul of the Community Pharmacy Agreement, say the Consumers Health Forum, Cancer Voices Australia and the Chronic Illness Alliance, to ensure health needs get first priority.

Removing the restrictions would be in the long-term interest of consumers, they say.

Click here for the full report.

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