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“Monopoly is good for you” position is nonsense

“Monopoly is good for you” position of Pharmacy Guild nonsense

The Pharmacy Guild’s spin that maintaining the current chemist shop owners’ monopoly is in the consumers’ interest is simply self interest dressed up as altruism the Retailers Association said today.

“The claim yesterday by Pharmacy Guild President, Richard Heslop that a proposal to allow people other than pharmacists to own chemist shops was ‘more about benefiting [supermarket] shareholders than consumers’ is just part of a long history of the Guild trying to hide the real issue by raising fears about standards or loss of service,” said Retailers Chief Executive John Albertson

The Guild should stick to the facts, which are:

What is proposed is only a change to who could own a chemist shop – it would not change who is able to dispense drugs or give advice and does not impact on pharmacy standards.

Open ownership would enable a supermarket or department store to own and operate a pharmacy as a separate part of its store (i.e. a pharmacy within a store, not ‘drugs on shelves’), employing a pharmacist or pharmacists at all times to provide dispensing and advice

If the Health Professional Competency Assurance Bill is passed in its current form it would mean chemists shops were the last retail monopoly in New Zealand.

Statistics New Zealand show chemist shops have the highest retail margin (11.1%) -of any retail category, which is what you would expect under a monopoly. Supermarkets in contrast have the lowest margin at 2.3%.

It was not the supermarkets (as Mr Heslop implies), but the government’s health advisors who called for the end of the pharmacists’ retail monopoly because those advisors were concerned about service and access to drugs under the current regime. Officials identified a range of benefits from ending the chemist shop owners’ monopoly including: improved mechanisms for ensuring the safe distribution of medicines savings for the Government / taxpayer in the form of lower dispensing fees a more competitive pharmacy retail market that may reduce the costs consumers pay for unsubsidised or partially subsidised medicines improved pharmacy services in remote areas more diversity of delivery of pharmacy services the addition of the retailing expertise and experience of established organisations in New Zealand and international pharmacy chains the removal of the cost of running the Pharmacy Authority (a district court judge appointed by the Minister of Health, who approves applications to run a pharmacy which are otherwise contrary to the ownership restrictions)

“If the Guild was really worried that health services are unsafe if they are not owned by health professionals, then they should be arguing that our hospitals and health centres are unsafe because they are not owned by doctors,” said Mr Albertson.

“They should also be bitterly fighting the ending of optometrists’ ownership monopoly (with the optometrists’ support!) via the same Bill in which the chemist shop owners are fighting to maintain theirs.

“Of course they are doing neither of these things because the argument is nonsense. So is the argument that safety and standards would go to the dogs if someone other than a pharmacist was allowed to own a chemist shop.”

© Scoop Media

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