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Plea to stop pharmacies from big chain stores

Plea to stop pharmacies from being allowed in big chain stores

A lobby group today appealed to the Government to stop moves allowing big box retailers to have pharmacies in their stores.

Envision New Zealand wants the government to consider the wider impacts of allowing big chains to have in-store pharmacies.

``We want the Health Select Committee not to allow big retailers to have in-store pharmacies so we can protect the fabric of our communities and small town centres,’’ Envision director Warren Snow said today.

Auckland-based Envision NZ works with communities throughout New Zealand to develop sustainable economic development strategies and to fight urban sprawl.

They are against companies like Progressive Enterprises and The Warehouse seeking to have pharmacies in their big stores. A select committee’s report on the bill considering changes is due out on April 14. Mr Snow said big box supermarkets and retailers wanted to dominate the market under the guise of free competition.

``I am particularly concerned that we will change the present structure of ownership which ensures that everyone in New Zealand lives within a short distance from a local pharmacy, owned and operated by someone who belongs to and cares about the community,’’ Mr Snow said. Small town centres had declined because of the impact of big box retailers and what has become known as “mega” shopping centres. ``Quite often the only factor halting the complete decline of many community or local shopping centres is the local pharmacy.

``If the local pharmacy closes we will see the final death blow to many small local and community shopping centres because they are very often the anchor business that keeps the other businesses going.’’

If big chains were allowed to have in-store pharmacies there could be also direct health costs to the community through the effects of urban and community decline.

He said competition already existed in the pharmacy business. Pharmacies contributed to the overall health of the community by being local and providing services that chains may not be able to provide.

Three recent surveys in the US states of Maine and New York found independent pharmacies sold prescription medicines for less than big box chain stores.

``Big Chains will never replace what has become a New Zealand institution. Neat local chemist stores run by real professionals, employing neatly attired local people who care for their clients and their customers. ``Chemists all over New Zealand participate in many ways within their communities beyond just providing a service through their stores. They are very much part of the social glue that holds our communities together.

``As such we must work to preserve what has been lost in so many other aspects of New Zealand life.’’

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