Pharmacy criticised after early shoppers raid baby formula

Baby formula on shelves. Image: AJP/Jarrod McMaugh
Baby formula on pharmacy shelves. Image: AJP/Jarrod McMaugh

Video has emerged of shoppers queueing outside a Melbourne pharmacy in the early hours of the morning to grab formula before it even hits the shelves

The Herald Sun reports it saw up to 20 customers queuing outside My Chemist in Melbourne’s CBD from 7am on two separate occasions last week.

When staff opened the doors at 7.30am, the group quickly grabbed boxes of formula, including the popular Aptamil and A2 brands, before it could be unpacked or placed on shelves, reports the Herald Sun.

Residents claim the store has been raided by such shoppers in the early hours of the morning for months, leaving no formula left for mothers to buy during the day. 

One local resident told the paper he saw a group lining up outside the pharmacy every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.

The Herald Sun captured footage of shoppers lining up early in the morning to stock up on baby formula.
The Herald Sun captured footage of shoppers lining up early in the morning to stock up on baby formula.

While many supermarkets and pharmacies have a two-tin limit, the My Chemist manager told the Herald there was a “six-tin-per-visit” limit, with signs in English and Chinese around the shop.

The Daigou channel – a network of people and businesses that purchase goods on behalf of end users in China, to whom they send the goods – was formalised in February with the launch of the Australia China Daigou Association.

The channel is estimated to be worth around $850 million.

Tins of baby formula can fetch more than three times the cost when sold to Chinese buyers.

In November last year, A Current Affair also took aim at Chemist Warehouse over its sale of baby formula to Chinese buyers.

It was alleged that Chemist Warehouse had created a “pick and pack” centre in its Chadstone Shopping Centre store in Victoria, in order to sell direct to the daigou market.

Viewers of A Current Affair shared some suggestions to parents who are having difficulty finding baby formula for their children.

“Instead of trying to buy it at the chain stores, build a relationship with your local independent pharmacy,” one viewer wrote on its Facebook page.

“Usually they will be more than happy to keep some for you. Might be a little more expensive but you will be able to get it and keep the profits local. My son was on a special formula and our pharmacy kept extra for us.”

AJP approached My Chemist Retail Group, which stated it had no comment on the matter.

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1 Comment

  1. Slim Jim

    Are we still chemists (…sorry pharmacists) or just the “shop-keepers” we’ve always been?

    It is no wonder the bulk of the medical profession has never taken our role seriously.
    Soon this will also be the perception of the public and our Government paymasters, if not already.

    The cancer in pharmacy has been its rapid “corporatisation” since 2000.

    And we can not blame the My Chemist Retail Group exclusively for this disease; franchised, “branded” and “management group-model” pharmacy groups AND wholesalers seeking to lock in pharmacies by developing their own franchise-model chains are just as culpable.

    Welcome Ramsay HealthCare; now watch the cancer rapidly progress to terminal stage four.

    Just ask your local GP about Universal Health Care and “bulk-billing” concessions made in the 1980s? Not the young ones… the older practitioners.

    Then talk to your local dentist for a different perspective!

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