Pharmacy Location Rules: Delivering public benefit for decades
Consumers have benefited for almost 30 years from the Location Rules which have ensured a well-distributed network of community pharmacies supplying PBS medicines and patient services — where people live, and where they need those medicines and services.
The Location Rules were introduced by Government in the early 1990s. The purpose of the Location Rules is to ensure that all Australians have high levels of access to PBS medicines and related services, delivered through a well-distributed network of community pharmacies.
The Location Rules ensure that community pharmacies are established where there is a genuine community need, creating a viable network across the country where patients need timely and equitable access to medicines.
The Pharmacy Guild has published empirical evidence to demonstrate that the current regulation of community pharmacies is delivering high levels of access, choice, competition, equity and quality for consumers. For example, 87 per cent of Australians live within 2.5km of at least one pharmacy. This is not an accident of the market – it is a direct result of the Location Rules policy.
The level of access for community pharmacies is higher than for supermarkets, banks and medical centres in both capital cities and in regional areas.
The Location Rules prevent the clustering of pharmacies in more lucrative, higher socio-economic areas, which could deprive patients (particularly those who cannot travel longer distances and those living in rural areas or lower socio-economic outer metropolitan suburbs) from having timely and convenient access to a local pharmacy.
The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, said:
“The Location Rules have played an important and beneficial part in sustaining the effective network of community pharmacies in Australia – a network which benefit patients wherever they live.”
Mr Tambassis was responding to a story in News Limited newspapers today which asserted that Location Rules were “forcing patients in the bush to pay three times more for life-changing medicines than people in the city.”
This was a misleading, shameless beat-up which ignored the benefits of the community pharmacy model, the availability of generic medicines, and the safety net mechanisms of the subsidised medicine scheme, the PBS.