‘There’s never been a more exciting time to be a pharmacy owner.’

Trent Twomey presents at the Medici Capital Pharmacy Ownership Ready conference.
Trent Twomey presents at the Medici Capital Pharmacy Ownership Ready conference.

Australians have “very, very, very low awareness” of professional services available in pharmacy, says Queensland Guild president Trent Twomey

Speaking at the Medici Capital Pharmacy Ownership Ready Conference on the Gold Coast, Mr Twomey gave an overview of the pharmacy landscape and said that when pharmacies talk about or advertise MedsChecks or staged supply, the patient reaction is, “What does that mean?”

“No one knows what the hell that is,” he said. “We need to find a better communication strategy than putting up a sign.

“No one knows what we mean when we use our own internal nomenclature.”

He said that professional programs are “sexy, they’re nice to do, but you can’t run a business on professional programs”.

He said that CP2025 research has to date had some interesting findings, including that while 57% of patients had used a discount pharmacy in the past 12 months, 51% used one pharmacy for all their needs.

Change in the sector will be driven by the consumer whether pharmacists like it or not, he told the conference.

Mr Twomey also took a swing at the unpopular $1 copayment discount, which had been announced by former Health Minister Sussan Ley.

“We hate it,” he said. “We think it’s an absolute assault and attack on universal health care.”

He said that a patient’s postcode should not influence their ability to afford their medicines.

“Some consumers are more equal than others now, depending on their postcode.”


Ownership advice

Mr Twomey told pharmacists not to be afraid of moving into regional areas in order to go into pharmacy ownership or, in the shorter term, to seek better pay.

He said the Pharmacy Guild gets a lot of criticism in regard to the reduction over time of wages for pharmacists, but “there is no difference between community pharmacy and any other profession that might be in or out of health” in that wages are higher where there’s more demand, typically in rural and regional areas.

With more pharmacists registered in Australia than ever before, lower wages are a function of normal economic forces, he said.

“Unfortunately people just don’t want to relocate to regional areas.”

He told delegates how he and wife Georgina, who is also a pharmacist, “went where the opportunities were,” first to Newcastle to work for former Guild president John Bronger, and then back to Far North Queensland for an ownership opportunity.

Another decision which worked out well was to go into business with a partner.

“We really enjoy having business partners,” he said.

“There’s a lot of naysayers and negativity at the moment, but there’s never been a more exciting time to be a pharmacy owner.

“Wherever there’s risk there’s reward.”

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1 Comment

  1. TheBarefootPharmacist

    Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be as much nay-saying and negativity if there wasn’t good reason for it. Whilst not begrudging anyone their success (well maybe some … yes, I’m looking at you Chemist Whorehouse) some of us just bought the wrong pharmacy at the wrong time and no amount of blood, sweat or tears could save us. It’s easy to say that pharmacies need to move with the times, adapt to the new environment, provide new services etc., but an owner can still do all of those things to no discernible avail.
    Some of us just took too much damage having been battered by a perfect storm of price disclosures, discounting chains, PBS script discounting, uncooperative landlords, exorbitant prices (for a small ma & pa owned pharmacy) for things like PSA Quality Care, Guild fees, pharmacy software and the like.
    Next thing you know, the bank are selling your pharmacy for $900k less than you paid for it eight years ago leaving you still owing them $1.1M and so then they take your house which doesn’t really bother you because you don’t live there anymore because the stress of it all contributed to your marriage breaking down three years ago precipitating a temporary but sharp decline in your mental health which AHPRA take a keen interest in subsequently placing conditions on your registration. Ok, perhaps that’s just me, but I do feel a deep empathy for other pharmacy owners who find themselves struggling in this new, rather unforgiving world of community pharmacy. On their behalf I would like to say that we reserve the right to be at least a little bit pi$$ed at the state of affairs.
    On the flip side … kudos to Trent.
    Pharmacy needs more like him (mainly to balance the likes of me).
    Well done and don’t ever lose that fire.

    Hey, this posting replies thing is great therapy … and a lot cheaper.


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