Pharmacy review attracts scathing submissions

3 minute read

More concerns have been raised over proposals to expand the clinical role of pharmacists


Public submissions to the King Review into pharmacy remuneration and regulation have criticised “shonky” practices and “rampant capitalism” in the industry

The Federal Government created the review, chaired by economist Professor Stephen King, in 2015 to recommend changes to the industry.

The review panel is currently consulting stakeholders through an online questionnaire, public forums and submissions. The panel will provide a final report to Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley by March next year.

Five out of seven submissions from doctors and pharmacists have been published online so far.

Dr FM Janse (Thinus) van Rensburg, a Canberra GP, said in his submission he was concerned with the push for an expansion of the clinical role of community pharmacists.

“As general practitioners, we are increasingly restricting our involvement with pharmaceutical companies in order to avoid a perceived bias,” he said.

However, pharmacies were not under the same constraints. They were free to advertise services such as weight-loss programs, sick certificates and naturopathy, he said.

“We certainly would not want to mix up the allopathic drugs behind the counter with the homeopathic drugs, magnets and other miracle cures this side of the counter,” Dr van Rensburg said.

“And please take care not to trip over the equipment that is being used for flu injections, melanoma diagnosis or assessing for sleep apnoea – all done by people with a few hours’ worth of training.”

Dr van Rensburg said it was mind boggling that doctors were deemed so untrustworthy they could not dispense medication, while the “shonky operation” within pharmacies was rewarded by the authorities, which were considering expanding the clinical role of pharmacists.

“Surely the powers that be cannot be this naïve?”

Retired pharmacist Ron Dymock, from Western Australia, raised concerns over the relaxation of pharmacy-ownership rules.

“The ideal is for ownership to be restricted to one (or two, at most) pharmacy for one pharmacist owner,” Mr Dymock said. In other words, the person that owns the store, runs the store.

“Unfortunately, since this situation was abandoned and looser limits instituted … several pharmacists have succumbed to greed and overt rampant capitalism. d.

“Schemes of arrangement appear to exist whereby pharmacists pretend to own a pharmacy but in fact financial[ly] benefit, [from] and control, a chain of pharmacies.” said.

Mr Dymock called for the present rules to be tightened or at least enforced.

The number of pharmacies a pharmacist can own varies between states and territories in Australia, with no restrictions in the two territories, WA and Tasmania permitting four, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria allowing five and South Australia allowing six per pharmacist.

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