Guild seeks court action to check validity of Ramsay ownership arrangements

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has begun legal proceedings to seek clarity over whether the ownership of Ramsay-branded pharmacies meets pharmacy ownership requirements. 

According to court records, the proceedings will begin before the Equity division of the NSW Supreme Court on the 2 October 2018 in the case of The Pharmacy Guild of Australia v Ramsay Health Care Ltd.

AJP understands that the procedings were launched by the Guild and three pharmacist members. 

In a statement sent to AJP, the Guild cited public interest as well as legal issues as a reason to maintain and protect existing pharmacy ownership regulations.

The statement said: “The action taken in the NSW Supreme Court is to test the application of the pharmacy ownership section of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) in relation to certain recent pharmacy ownership transactions.

“The purpose is to test whether these transactions comply with the law in NSW, in particular, provisions in relation to who may have a financial interest in a pharmacy.

“The Pharmacy Guild in the public interest is committed to taking appropriate action to ensure that the pharmacy ownership rules in all States and Territories are maintained and enforced. 

“Governments around Australia have made clear that they support a policy of pharmacists owning and controlling community pharmacies. Pharmacist-only pharmacy ownership is fundamental to the community pharmacy model. The Guild believes that anything that undermines it is not in the public interest. 

“The matter is now before the Court and the Guild will not be making further comment during these proceedings”.

Ramsay Health Care had not responded to our request for comment at time of publication.

The Guild and Ramsay have had a history of sniping at each other since the health care provider made its intention clear to push into community pharmacy.

In 2017 it made major headway with the purchase of the Malouf pharmacy group (of 18 pharmacies).

Earlier this year, Ramsay’s submission to the ongoing Queensland pharmacy inquiry, and the comments of its pharmacy CEO Peter Giannopoulos when he appeared before the inquiry, had extolled the benefits of a corporate pharmacy structure.