News reports ‘a kick in the guts’ for pharmacy: Guild

pills on $20 note

News Limited newspapers have today carried a story about pharmacies which completely distorts the reality currently facing community pharmacies in Australia, the Pharmacy Guild says.

The report, How a pharmacy monopoly pushes up your medicine price and makes pharmacies million dollar businesses, singles out Terry White and Chemist Warehouse’s Damien Gance to illustrate its claims of widespread wealth within the industry.

“Far from being millionaire factories, local pharmacies are doing it tough in today’s economic conditions – with many facing reduced opening hours, reductions in services and staff losses,” the Guild says in a statement.

“The News Limited story by journalist Sue Dunlevy is a malicious fantasy, based on erroneous kindergarten economics which confuses turnover, gross profit and net profit.”

The community pharmacy system in Australia dispenses 270 million prescriptions each year under the PBS. Consumers and taxpayers are served very well by this system, the Guild says, reflecting the high level of trust they place on their local pharmacy.

“It is offensive and unacceptable that this false impression of profiteering should be put about at a time when the Guild is negotiating a new five-year Community Pharmacy Agreement with the Government to ensure that local pharmacies remain viable, keep their doors open and continue to serve patients with integrity and professionalism.

“Community pharmacies are under stress, and this kind of vicious, prejudiced and ill-informed journalism is reprehensible. The ANAO audit report relied on in the story made no adverse findings against the Pharmacy Guild, and all recommendations have been accepted by the Department of Health and welcomed by the Guild.”

In terms of compliance with pharmacy program requirements, the Guild says it fully supports strong compliance measures to ensure that programs funded under the current Agreement are delivered according to strict terms and conditions.

“Pharmacies in large banner groups are individually owned – and many are dealing with tough economic times as their bottom lines deteriorate because of cuts to their funding which have delivered billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. This pressure is forcing many pharmacies to reduce opening hours, services and staff levels.

“The florid and distorted account published this morning is a kick in the guts for the many thousands of hard-working pharmacists who are doing their best in difficult circumstances to serve the people who look to them for excellent advice, service and medications.”

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