If the community pharmacy sector wants to be taken seriously as healthcare providers, it has to change tack.
Health Minister Greg Hunt recently announced that the Federal Government rejected many of the proposals in the King review of the community pharmacy sector.
This means for example that pharmacies will not be required to separate alternative remedies, including homeopathic products, from evidence-based medicines.
Community pharmacy owners want to be taken seriously as healthcare providers yet, at the same time, they continue to behave like a commercial interest group.
Recent actions of the sector, such as the pro-codeine lobby, raised many eyebrows. Political donations and backdoor lobbying are still the norm in this industry.
Chemist shop model
“The Guild looks forward to continuing our close dialogue with the Government on all matters to do with the sector and community pharmacy’s role,” said Pharmacy Guild President George Tambassis in response to the announcement by Minister Hunt.
And the Guild’s David Quilty stated: “When it comes to pharmacy, the Federal Government has taken the very reasonable approach that when something works very well, why tinker unnecessarily with it?”
These responses speak for themselves.
The question is, does the chemist shop model work ‘very well’, or is it relying on lotions and potions, anti-competitive regulation and protection, lobbying and political donations to stay afloat?
In the Financial Review Stephen Duckett commented, “Once again, the power of sectoral interest groups in Australian health policy is exposed.” And, “Once again, the public interest has lost out.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I’m looking forward to the day the community pharmacy sector shakes its retail sales focus – but I’m not holding my breath.