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March 2002 issue Pharmacy Today magazine


Pharmacists have given the thumbs down to the government's proposed ownership changes.

The Pharmaceutical Society has finished collating 88 submissions received over the Christmas break. The majority were from non-proprietor pharmacists,(50) with 30 from proprietors, two from groups of pharmacists and four from other parts of the health sector.

The society says pharmacists are "almost" unanimously against the proposed changes. This sentiment is shared by those attending the recent series of Pharmacy Guild roadshows, according to the guild.

The main observations made in submissions were:

  • Pharmacists are not valued. This has been illustrated by the lack of consultation with the profession.
  • Non-pharmacist ownership is not in the best public interest. Standards of patient care and safety is likely to decline.
  • Evidence of quality benefits to the public have not been put forward by government.
  • The public has not indicated a desire for change.
  • Deregulation will hinder implementation of the New Zealand Health Strategy. Large national chains will lessen the links between pharmacy and their communities as they will locate in financially attractive areas. This would fly in the face of the health strategy, which aims to focus services on those areas that will ensure greatest benefit for the population, and reduce inequalities.
  • Reduced rural services.
  • In the longer term, reduced consumer choice as larger chains squeeze out smaller independent pharmacies.
  • Lower standards of pharmaceutical services will result from pharmacists increasingly becoming employees rather than owners. Pharmacists understand that safety is paramount while non-pharmacists may not have the same priority.
  • Free services, such as home delivery, may be curtailed.
  • Current staffing shortages may be exacerbated by longer opening hours and less interest in pharmacy as a profession as opportunities for young pharmacists to own their own businesses decline.

Pharmacists also indicated they would prefer to work with the Ministry of Health to improve the viability of community pharmacy services.

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