Rival pharmacy group unseats Guild veterans

2 minute read

NSW-based pharmacist advocates CAPS have won a significant number of seats on the Pharmacy Guild of Australia state branch committee.

The pharmacy group behind last year’s high-profile parliament house protest has maintained its momentum, winning five seats and ousting incumbent Guild leadership in a recent NSW branch committee election.  

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is one of the most powerful lobby groups in Canberra, regularly making the top 10 list of corporate political donors.  

While many industry peak bodies claim to shape policy, it’s well known that the Guild wields particular weight as chief negotiator of the five-yearly Community Pharmacy Agreement. The current agreement is worth $18 billion.  

According to the Australian Journal of Pharmacy, candidates belonging to the Sydney-based Community and Pharmacy Support Group (CAPS) unseated both Pharmacy Guild NSW president David Heffernan and vice president Adele Tahan.  

CAPS won against other candidates in another two seats and picked up a fifth uncontested.  

Every candidate run by the group secured a seat.  

It’s a stunning twist, given that CAPS was originally created in the 1980s by members of the Pharmacy Guild NSW. 

After lying dormant for decades, it was resuscitated after the government introduced 60-day dispensing last year.  

While the two pharmacy groups share similar goals, CAPS has been far more radical than the Guild in its opposition to expanded dispensing provisions.  

This is not because the Guild supports the changes to dispensing – it ceased its anti-60-day dispensing campaign in return for an earlier start to the next Community Pharmacy Agreement.  

CAPS has staged several protests, with one even leading to a security review at Parliament House

The Pharmacy Guild NSW branch committee is made up of 12 districts, meaning that CAPS now represents a formidable voting bloc.  

And it’s clear that they mean business.  

“It is time for change within the Guild,” said Emil Demyane, who unseated Mr Heffernan.  

“With your support I will foster unity within our state, and we will strive to improve remuneration for services and protect our most critical location rules.” 

The government has still not unveiled the Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement, after failing to meet its own 1 March deadline.  

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