Pharmacy just a ‘street shop’, says GP

It’s “like Groundhog Day” says one pharmacist, as a prominent doctor attacks pharmacy over professional services

Over the weekend, the Daily Telegraph published an article titled, What’s up Doc? Try these tricks to save money on medical services, featuring a pharmacist who said some services can be performed in community pharmacy.

Matina Karanicolas told reporter Anthony Keane that many pharmacies now offer blood pressure and blood glucose checks free of charge, as well as providing influenza and pertussis vaccination services and absence from work certificates.

“That would save a patient going to the doctor, waiting times and consult fees. You walk into a pharmacy and 15 minutes later you are gone and all you have to pay for is the vaccine,” she told the Telegraph.

“People don’t realise we do all these other services,” Mrs Karanicolas said. “Many doctors can charge $70-$80 for a 15 minute appointment. If there’s any issue we would always refer them back to the doctor.”

The article also quoted RACGP president Dr Bastian Seidel, who said that Australians should not fragment their health care too much, and should contact GPs.

Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care Evan Ackermann, a frequent critic of the community pharmacy sector, tweeted a link to the article with the comment: “Pharmacy is a street shop where sales techniques are disguised and marketed as ‘health services’.”

“Pharmacy is the reason why many people are on useless and inappropriate medication,” he wrote.

Several members of the pharmacy profession responded to the comments.

“I would suggest you read this and attempt to provide constructive ways forward, in particular your resistance to pharmacists in general practice is a reason that patients continue to receive inappropriate medicine,” wrote PSA president Shane Jackson, linking to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s literature review on medication safety in Australia.

Other pharmacists had comments of their own:

In a second tweet, Dr Ackermann also referred to pharmacists as amateurs:

And a third linked to his 2016 piece in the Medical Journal of Australia, in which he argued that pharmacy-based Minor Ailments Schemes were no more than “a push by the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacy business to increase drug sales under the guise of health innovation”.

Anthony Tassone, president of the Pharmacy Guild Victorian branch, summed up pharmacy’s reaction to the tweets quite succinctly: “I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day,” he wrote.


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  1. Paul Sapardanis

    I unfortunately have to semi agree with the good doctor on this based on one point. If what we are offering is not a sales technique why are we offering these services for free or below cost??? Is it because we want people in store to b to y other stuff? If offering these services are wothwhile ( which I believe they are ) then they are worth charging for.

  2. PharmOwner

    It’s a great pity that some GP’s feel the need to constantly denigrate the pharmacy profession. Perhaps they feel threatened. A collaborative approach to improving patient care would be more productive – and welcome.

  3. William

    Pharmacy has brought this on itself. The old “Chemist shop” where the “chemists” actually did something by clerking a script, but actually compounding it in most cases, label and hand it to the patient, This has morphed into “Pharmacy” which takes mainly printed NHS scripts, clerked and dispensed by picking a product of the shelf, attaching a label mostly done by assistants and a supermarket type operation selling everything from hocus pocus complementary “medicines” that have little to back up the “medicinal” claims, to minor scheduled medicines. The Chemist shop also had scales where people could weigh themselves, removed specks from eye, syringed ears, treated minor grazes and cuts etc all for nothing. That was always regarded as a service of most pharmacies and were regarded as professionals.
    Now they are fighting for the role lost 60 odd years ago and trying to create a use for themselves. In parallel to this nurses have evolved into more useful clinical types and who better skill sets to tend patients.
    There is no way that pharmacists have the overall skill set to clinically handle what they are proposing. The medicos and the nurses will not allow it and I cannot see the Government reimbursing them for such services.

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