The right location?

The Australian Community Pharmacy Authority has been ordered to reconsider its rejection of an application to supply pharmaceutical benefits from a WA medical centre

An initial application for a pharmacy license by Falcon Grove Pharmacy P/L was rejected by the authority in December 2015 as it was not satisfied that the proposed premises were in a large medical centre and were at least 500m in a straight line from the nearest approved premises.

They ruled, therefore, that the application was in contravention of two subsections of Item 136 of the National Health (Australian Community Pharmacy Authority Rules) Determination 2011.

However the applicants appealed the decision, saying the authority had erred in finding the premises were not located in a large medical centre. It had instead ruled that the proposed premises were adjacent to, but not part of the centre, and that the medical centre and the proposed pharmacy would operate under separate management.   

The case was based around three issues:

1) Is the proposed premises “in” a “large medical centre” – Item 136(1) of the Rules requires the premises be in a large medical centre, defined as one that is under single management, and that operates for at least 70 hours per week, with one or more prescribing medical practitioners at the centre for at least 70 hours per week

2) Is it under “single management” – defined in S 5(1) of the Rules as being a shopping centre or medical centre that means management of the centre as a whole by one manager, or by two or more managers working cooperatively under an agreement; and to encourage the use of the centre as a single integrated facility; and including management of the matters such as security, pedestrian and vehicular access, signage and trading hours.

3) Whether “at all relevant times” the number of “PBS prescribers” at the medical centre is equivalent to at least 8 full-time “PBS prescriber” of which at least 7 must be “prescribing medical practitioners”

The Tribunal ruled late in 2016 that the application met all these criteria, and called for the Community Pharmacy Authority to review the application.

The Tribunal ruled it “sets aside the Decision and remits the matter to the Authority for reconsideration in accordance with the recommendation that the Authority recommend to the Department that Falcon Grove’s application to supply pharmaceutical benefits at the Proposed Premises be approved under s 90 of the NHA [National Health Act 1953]”.

Click here to read the court documents

Click here to read debate among AJP readers on whether pharmacy location rules should be abolished.

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