Investigation into ‘complex’ pharmacy licence applications set to target franchise agreements
Victorian regulators are set to begin stricter investigations into ‘complex’ pharmacy licence applications.
In its latest communique, the Victorian Pharmacy Authority has flagged it will now be adopting a revised approach to these applications following Ministerial advice “regarding the enforcement of restrictions on pharmacy ownership specified in the Pharmacy Regulation Act 2010.”
“For complex applications, the Minister advised the Authority to examine a suite of documents including bill of sale, mortgage, lease and other commercial arrangements to ensure compliance with the ownership and undue influence provisions of the Act,” the VPA communique states.
Licence applications are classified as complex if they involve third party commercial arrangements such as franchise agreements or arrangements with banner groups.
If the Authority determines that more information is required from applicants, “documents obtained from applicants may be examined by the Authority’s lawyers and/or accountants to ensure that a third party does not have an undue influence or proprietary interest in the pharmacy business,” it advised. “Applicants who lodge a complex licence application may experience an extended processing period and are advised to plan accordingly”.
The move follows a VPA-commissioned external review aimed at determining if licence application and renewal processes were “adequate to determine compliance with the Act”.
The move has been welcomed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, whose Victorian branch president Anthony Tassone, told AJP it was: “working with governments and regulators around Australia to ensure that pharmacist-only, pharmacy ownership laws are maintained, enforced and, if necessary, strengthened so that their clear public intent is not undermined”.
“The Victorian Branch of the Pharmacy Guild has advocated actively and strongly for some time for greater scrutiny and due diligence of pharmacy business applications and renewals to ensure the legislative intent of pharmacy ownership law is upheld”.
The role of the registering authorities including the Victorian Pharmacy Authority is to ensure that only registered pharmacists can hold a proprietary interest in a community pharmacy,” he said.
“The recommendations of the PharmConsult independent review into pharmacy business license applications and renewals are a step in the right direction of strengthening and improving the due diligence that could be undertaken by the Victorian Pharmacy Authority in administering the Pharmacy Regulation Act in Victoria,” said Mr Tassone.