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May 2002 issue Pharmacy Today magazine


  • Media campaign on hold while Minister takes Guild proposals to Cabinet
  • National and Greens publicly oppose ownership deregulation proposal

The big guns of the Pharmacy Guild's media campaign will remain silent until the Minister of Health delivers the guild's ownership proposals to Cabinet.

A meeting between the guild and Minister of Health Annette King last month resulted in the minister agreeing to work with the guild to present its proposals to Cabinet later this month.

Annette King said the main reason behind her decision is her belief there is a "sincere desire" by the guild to advance the government's primary health aims.

The guild's publicity campaign was not a factor in her decision, she said.

"In particular, I'm encouraged the guild has no objections to Primary Health Organisations (PHO) owning pharmacies."

This may prove a sticking point as the guild has voiced concerns over PHO ownership. Guild president Gray Maingay said the guild's proposals currently do not include PHO ownership of pharmacies.

If the meeting with the minister had not been fruitful, guild president Gray Maingay said a television advertising campaign would have been launched within 48-hours.

Three television advertisements were completed last month and will advise the public of the uncertainties of pharmacy services under deregulation and call for public support, Gray Maingay said.

If the guild's bid to Cabinet is unsuccessful, the campaign will begin later this month, he said.

Paying the bills

While the guild is reluctant to discuss the non-compulsory levy requested from its members for its campaign, Pharmacy Today understands it is based on a pharmacy's turnover.

Those with a turnover of up to $1 million are requested to pay $1000, for a turnover up to $2 million, the levy is $1500 and above $2 million, $2000 is requested.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has asked the guild what "resources" it requires to fight deregulation.

Asked to outline the likely support offered, Gray Maingay said "resources come in many forms," and the guild has yet to reply to the offer.

The guild's proposal to Cabinet will include:

  • That every pharmacy be under the effective ownership and control of pharmacists.
  • At least 75% of the business must be owned by a pharmacist or pharmacists who will have effective control of the pharmacy.
  • Multiple ownership by pharmacists of up to five pharmacies, although Gray Maingay says the number is up for debate.

The minister believes the developments will not impact on the introduction of the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Bill to Parliament in the next month or so.

Meanwhile, the guild will continue with its current campaign, which includes a public petition, fostering public support and lobbying MPs.

Also joining the fray last month was the Green Party, calling on government to abandon its plans for deregulation.

National leader Bill English told delegates at the New Zealand Pharmacy conference, despite supporting deregulation in theory, his party opposes deregulation of pharmacy ownership because of questions remaining over public safety.

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