‘The owner of the pharmacy is always ultimately responsible’

two pharmacists

Pharmacy authority reminds absentee owners not to shirk their responsibilities

The Victorian Pharmacy Authority has reminded proprietors about their responsibilities in its December Circular.

“Many pharmacies are owned by pharmacists who do not work in them,” says the authority.

“In many instances, the owner will attend the pharmacy frequently to ensure that legal and professional requirements are met. In others, perhaps due to distance, owners are essentially absent and may rely largely on the appointed pharmacist regularly and usually in charge.

“However, the owner of the pharmacy is always ultimately responsible for the conduct of the pharmacy and cannot abdicate this responsibility,” it stresses.

The authority says it expects that all owners of pharmacy businesses in Victoria visit their pharmacies regularly.

This reminder comes soon after a poll that found most AJP readers think there should be mandatory work requirements for owners, with over a third calling for them to work >350 hours per year in each of their pharmacies.

From a total of 691 individual votes, 36% thought owners should be required to work in each of their pharmacies >350 hours per year.

A further 20% said owners should be required to work in each of their pharmacies 250 hours per year.

Eighteen percent said there should be no mandatory work requirements for owners.

The Victorian Pharmacy Authority says proprietors’ responsibilities include spending time visiting their pharmacy to ensure that its business commercial arrangements comply with the Act.

“Owners can also use self-audit forms to help satisfy them that their businesses are run in accordance with the law and professional standards,” says the authority.

“If a proprietor finds that their pharmacy is not being carried on in accordance with legislation and good pharmacy practice, they must intervene to ensure that the pharmacy is properly conducted.

“All partners in a partnership or directors of a corporate owner share these responsibilities,” it says.

“Some pharmacists continue to obtain advice about commercial arrangements, including pharmacy trusts, from persons who may not have fully understood the ownership provisions of the Act. Pharmacists should take steps to satisfy themselves that such arrangements are compliant.”

The authority says it is currently considering matters at disciplinary panel hearings where applicants or licensees have delegated responsibilities to a support person or banner group, “resulting in false information being submitted in applications or failure to make notifications to the authority in order to obtain a licence”.

“Pharmacists should be aware of the potential ramifications of delegating such responsibilities and in the case of corporate owners, pharmacists are encouraged to review their duties as directors under the Corporations Act,” the authority urges.

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  1. Michael Post

    The fact that an authority needs to remind absentee owners to take responsibility for their investment is testament to how anachronistic location/ ownership rules are.
    We have large numbers of low to average income pharmacist employees denied the ability to own their own pharmacy while a wealthy minority own large numbers in absentia.
    The question most relevant to this arrangement is ” Does community health benefit when pharmacists that are active and on-site in a community pharmacy have ownership?” The ACPA need to answer this question with evidence in order to justify the existing order.

    • Ex-Pharmacist

      Agree Michael, great post. One wonders what the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s position is on the topic of “absentee owners”. I’m sure they would have a position on this subject, but strangely no public statements so far… A big congratulations to the VPA on their tough stance, they are the one pharmacy organisation in Australia that actually understands the importance of ‘public good’ and all power to them in their fight against dodgy pharmacy owners. I just can’t understand why only Victoria has a “Pharmacy Authority”, what about the rest of the country? Who stops pharmacy owners outside Vic from just “doing whatever the yell they like”?

  2. JimT

    how do these pharmacy owners which have an interest in in mutiple (say10) pharmacy businesses are even physically able to comply………..legal minefield I say

  3. Steve Flavel

    In Queensland, the Inquiry into the Establishment of a Pharmacy Council stated they have no way of confidently knowing who the hell even is the owner of corporate pharmacies so that buck can be passed around left, right and centre until no-one gets the blame or can be held accountable.

    • Ex-Pharmacist

      Excellent point, Steve. No accountability whatsoever. What a mess this ‘profession’ is in.

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