Location rules are here to stay

The location rules are set to stay in place for the foreseeable future, thanks to a Budget deal between health minister Greg Hunt and the Pharmacy Guild.

This will be achieved by axing the sunset clause in the National Health Act. The clause means the rules expire when each community pharmacy agreement ends. That’s just over three years for the 6CPA.

The federal government will remove the clause “at the earliest opportunity”, says David Quilty, the Guild’s executive director.

 “This is testament to the tried and tested community pharmacy model and will provide much-needed certainty and stability for pharmacy small businesses.”

“Every five years pharmacists have uncertainty,” a Guild spokesperson said.

During negotiations for the 6CPA, agreement on location rules was finalised with only a “week or two to spare”.

“We just don’t need that stress,” the spokesperson said.

“We think this really underpins and maintains the equitable distribution of the pharmacy network.

“This is not about protecting pharmacists as it is about maintaining a viable network of pharmacies.”

According to Budget papers the changes will ensure the "onging legislative basis" for pharmacy location rules.

"This will provide pharmacy owners with ongoing confidence that approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits at particular premises will continue to be regulated," they say.