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Local Pharmacists Fighting Deregulation

Patient and pharmacist

Community pharmacists are taking the fight over deregulation to their local politicians and media organisations.

Local pharmacists are speaking out to their local media and politicians in a bid to have the Harper Competition Review recommendations reconsidered for the fear of pharmacy deregulation.

Pharmacists have rejected proposals in the review which deregulate the industry and boost competition, making pharmacy a profession about profit not healthcare.

Culburra Beach pharmacist David Heffernan told local newspaper South Coast Register that he believes allowing pharmacies to be set up in supermarket giants endangers patient care.

The Competition Review recommends, among 50 other things, the dumping of pharmacy location and ownership rules and places greater emphasis on business profit rather than healthcare.

“Healthcare is the objective not profit,” Mr Heffernan said. “Healthcare is not a commodity and I, along with a lot of others in the industry, believe if this proposal is allowed to go ahead it could endanger healthcare,” he added.

Mr Heffernan’s vocal backlash of the competition to local media was seconded by Canberra pharmacist, Luke Murray, who said he, like other industry professionals; go above and beyond to ensure patient care is paramount.

Mr Murray told the story of his Easter weekend dash where he assisted a patient who wanted to spend Easter with her family but needed painkillers to make that happen and it was Mr Murray who delivered the goods to the patient’s home.

“Whilst preparing the above medication, I fielded another call from a distraught patient who the previous afternoon had a highly specialised medication for neuropathic pain dispensed and on her way home, via the bus managed to “misplace” the medication,” Mr Murray wrote in a letter to his local member of parliament.

“So I was able to home deliver another repeat of this immobile patients medication. Outcome: This patient was able to continue their chronic pain relief over the long weekend without being a burden to the public hospital system,” he said.

Mr Heffernan said that anyone who wishes to see the owner can do so.

“How can they do that if Woolworths or Coles own the pharmacy?”

Their efforts have been endorsed by Anthony Tassone, president, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Victoria) who said: “I encourage any pharmacist to invite a detractor, journalist or other commentator to their pharmacy to ‘Discover More’ so to speak about what pharmacies and pharmacists really do”.

“It’s one thing to provide comment, but it needs to be informed and balanced comment. This can be done even at the local level. The difference pharmacy makes at the grassroots level is why it is so well respected and valued by the community.”

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