Location rules here to stay

Abolishing location rules would be ‘stupid policy’, Stephen King argues, but modifications are likely  

It would be “extremely surprising” if the Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation Review panel recommended abolishing location rules, its chair says.

Speaking at the Pharmacy Connect conference in Sydney last weekend, Professor Stephen King said modifications to location rules were a possibility and the panel needed to define exactly what the aim of the rules was.

However he said he would be “extremely surprised if we said we should get rid of location rules. This would be stupid policy.”

During the panel’s extensive consultation process around Australia, he said he had been impressed by the vast reach of the community pharmacy network and this was a testament to the success of location rules.

“But this will not stop us posing the question of ‘what is the objective of the current location rule system? What does it aim to achieve? Should it be modified?’”

“Looking at it objectively I don’t know what the rules set out to achieve,” he said.

He reminded delegates that the purpose of the review was not to “prop up” pharmacies that were struggling, but rather to identify how pharmacy could operate in the best interests of consumers and of public health.

“The panel is not happy to recommend policy that props up the profits of community pharmacy, rather its recommendations are based on health care outcomes.”

The panel’s draft report is scheduled to be released in November 2016, with the final report submitted to the Minister for Health in March 2017.

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