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Government Pharmacies A Bad Idea

Government Pharmacies A Bad Idea

Tuesday 12 Aug 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today announced that she has submitted an amendment to the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Bill, to prevent Labour from nationalising pharmacies - and turning chemists into state employees.

"Health Minister Annette King's strategy is to encourage Primary Health Organisations and District Health Boards to own their own pharmacies and, essentially, to nationalise the community chemist shop. My amendment will prevent Primary Health Organisations from owning chemist shops," Mrs Roy said.

"The Labour Government has squeezed pharmacies, and already driven many out of business. It has undermined pharmacy margins - through its agency PHARMAC's monopoly, protracted contract negotiations with District Health Boards and the change to three-month dispensing. This last has, in effect, reduced chemists' dispensing income by two thirds. Most chemists now make no money from dispensing prescriptions.

"ACT is in favour of free enterprise and competition, but chemists have no level playing field. If taxpayer-funded District Health Boards can set up their own pharmacies to compete with locally owned pharmacies, the local chemist shop will quickly disappear.

"My advice to the Government is to start by de-regulating PHARMAC, and removing its exemption from Commerce Commission scrutiny. Hospitals should concentrate on reducing waiting lists, rather than using the deep pockets of Treasury to unfairly compete with one of the health sector's few unsubsidised areas - your locally owned chemist shop.

"When Ms King has made these measures, I'm sure the Pharmacy Guild would be willing to revisit regulations covering the sector," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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