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Is the government planning to nationalise pharmacy?

Rumours are rife in pharmacy circles that the federal government has asked the King Review panel to investigate ways to nationalise pharmacies.

It is believed that the government has decided that the only way it can effectively reign in PBS expenditure would be to have full control of the means of distribution and dispensing of medicines.

Some in Canberra are saying the extensive delays to any reports emerging from the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation (aka ‘the King Review’) are due to it being asked to investigate a range of “out of the box options” for the future look of the pharmacy sector.

Among these are throwing open pharmacy ownership to all comers, including supermarkets and foreign buyers, a government-owned franchise model and a fully nationalised sector, with many experts saying it appears to be favouring the latter option.

Details are hazy on any possible structural arrangements, but there are rumours that panel members flew to Germany to investigate government-owned pharmacies there, including one’s with largely robot dispensing.

“It seems they think that people are pretty dispensable from the dispensing process,” one insider said.     

Pharmacy sources confirmed to AJP in the early hours of 1 April that talk in Canberra among those with contacts in the Department of Health has been rife on the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement being torn up in the near future.        

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