‘Unequivocal support’ for pharmacist ownership

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In an inquiry submission, the PSA objects to deregulation and calls on the Qld government to “carefully consider” international evidence on the subject

The Queensland government is currently holding an inquiry into pharmacy ownership and the establishment of a pharmacy council in the state.

Among many submissions from various stakeholders, the PSA has stated its position of “unequivocal support” of the retention of current provisions relating to ownership of pharmacies.

The existing system of pharmacy ownership provides for responsibility and accountability by pharmacist owners, says the PSA.

It also provides for quality use of medicines, and value-added primary healthcare services and activities.

“This demonstrates the willingness of pharmacy owners to give priority to important community health activities over the commercial viability of the activity,” says the PSA.

The peak body points to the European countries that have similar regulatory arrangements as Australia, as well as others that have gone the route of deregulation.

“Current international experience suggests that the removal of all regulatory arrangements (including both location and ownership provisions) favours urban populations.

“A 2012 Report on the European experience … found that deregulation can actually result in impaired outcomes for patients, including an uneven distribution of community pharmacies, the dominance of some market participants (e.g. wholesalers) and commercial considerations leading to pressure to increase sales of OTC medicines and non-pharmaceutical products.

“PSA would urge the Queensland Government to carefully consider the available international evidence on the unintended outcomes seen as a result of deregulation of community pharmacy ownership arrangements.”

With regards to restriction on the number of pharmacies a pharmacist may own in Queensland, PSA states its support for the current small business model, saying it helps to provide high-quality services and flexibility.

“PSA would not support any changes to regulations that would result in a concentration of pharmacy ownership to a small number of groups which would dictate fewer models of practice,” says the group.

The Queensland government should also consider a requirement of at least one owner being a resident in the state, to ensure appropriate oversight of professional activities, the PSA says.

Meanwhile, the organisation does not provide support behind the idea of a pharmacy council.

It says it is unaware of any evidence to suggest that a council would improve community outcomes, or provide any other benefits.

The PSA also mentions that there would be administrative cost of which a significant proportion would likely be passed onto the community pharmacy sector to pay for.

It asks that any duplication in function of other agencies involved in pharmacy businesses and practice should be avoided.

Read the PSA’s full submission here

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