Does safe pharmacy practice require a registered pharmacist to own a pharmacy?

The issue of pharmacy ownership regulation has again been brought to the fore by Ramsay Health Care’s acquisition of the Malouf Group, Queensland’s largest privately owned pharmacy group.

Ramsay has announced that it has received regulatory approval to add Malouf Pharmacies to its pharmacy franchise network, and the deal is expected to be finalised early next month.

Under the acquisition, Ramsay franchisees will acquire the Malouf pharmacies; Ramsay says it is on track for its franchise network to include 55 retail pharmacies.

But Ramsay Pharmacy Group CEO Peter Giannopoulos told Professor Stephen King in July that its attempts to enter the community pharmacy sector had been “obstructed by Commonwealth and State regulation”.

He said it made sense that Ramsay Health Care hospital pharmacies could also offer walk-in community pharmacy services.

“Pharmacist-only ownership restrictions, backed by the Pharmacy Guild’s highly effective political influence, are holding back the evolution of community pharmacy as effective and multidisciplinary healthcare businesses.”

Ramsay restated its 2014 comment that “ensuring the safe and competent practice of pharmacy and related services does not require a registered pharmacist to own a pharmacy”, provided a registered pharmacist was in charge and accountable for the pharmacy’s professional conduct.

We’d like to know what you think. Does safe pharmacy practice require a registered pharmacist to own a pharmacy – or are other individuals and/or corporations also able to provide a service in which patients could have the same confidence?