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July 2002 issue Pharmacy Today magazine


The pharmacy services agreement could be in place by October.

While the Ministry of Health is hesitant to discuss what is to be known as the Pharmacy Services Agreement, the Pharmacy Guild has been advised the ministry sees October 1 as the earliest possible date for implementation.

The agreement was formerly known to pharmacists as the Pharmacy Services Contract.

This is the minimum time required by Healthpac (formerly Health Benefits and the Shared Support Services Group) to adjust its systems for claiming and payments under the new regime.

The ministry has also signalled its preference for a two-year agreement.

Pharmacy Today understands the ministry has begun approaching pharmacy software vendors to adjust their applications in preparation for the new agreement.

When contract negotiations began early last year, the ministry expected the agreement to be in operation by July 1 2001.

Guild chief executive Murray Burns says the draft agreement falls within the bounds of the Commerce Act.

The Commerce Commission had earlier released its draft determination declining the guild's application for exemption of draft national contract from anti-competitive regulations. This draft decision was made on the basis that the commission was not convinced public benefit outweighed the "competitive detriments."

On legal advice, the guild withdrew its application and renewed discussion with the ministry.

The guild's recent Annual General Meeting heard agreements will be between individual pharmacists and DHBs under the draft agreement template. Guild regional divisions are likely to take a greater role in guiding the agreement.

Commerce Act manager Geoff Thorn says the commission has historically had an interest in the guild's "behaviour" because of the nature of the pharmacy contract.
As standard procedure, the commission will monitor the pharmacy services agreement and maintain contact with the guild, he says.

Murray Burns expects the draft services agreement to be sent out to pharmacists as soon as possible for consultation.

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