Concerns about corporate discount pharmacies have sparked a review into pharmacy ownership laws in Western Australia
WA Health Minister Roger Cook has launched a review of pharmacy ownership, with public consultation open from now until December 8, 2017.
Mr Cook says that the review, which welcomes input from all West Australians, is intended to support community pharmacies in their role as “a trusted partner in delivering health services”.
He told Perth Now that the inquiry will be a “root and branch” review.
“What we’ve seen in other states is that pharmacies have tended towards the big corporate discount pharmacies, so they compete on price, not on quality of service.”
“Community pharmacies are an important part of our health system with 642 registered pharmacies in Western Australia,” he said in a statement. “The average community pharmacy dispenses 54,482 prescriptions per year.
“The traditional role of community pharmacies is changing and we want to make sure the Government’s regulatory role is keeping pace with the times.
“In the Eastern States, the growth of large ‘chains’ of pharmacies has been argued to have changed the nature of a pharmacy.
“We want to know what lessons we can learn from other States and Territories, and what trends we may need to be aware of and take into consideration.
“We’re also asking people whether the current WA ownership laws adequately protect the integrity of the sector, and what role pharmacies can play in an integrated health care model.”
The WA Health Department will consult with the pharmacy industry and other stakeholders to consider whether the current regulations are sufficient to maintain the integrity of the sector, and whether they are consistent with current practices and emerging trends.
Acting WA Pharmacy Guild president Andrew Ngeow told the AJP that “The Pharmacy Guild accepts that discounters will always exist, and put pressure on price – as long as it’s not to the detriment of the health of the community or public safety”.
He says that the review “presents a fantastic opportunity for the WA Government to partner with community pharmacy, in order to enhance their role within the primary health care sphere, and to enhance the role of community pharmacy around the health of the public and public safety”.
He says the Guild plans to follow processes within the review and make a submission.