Proposed Pharmacy Ownership Changes Could Impact Patient Services

Proposed changes to pharmacy ownership regulations may limit the ability of pharmacists in the future to deliver enhanced services such as vaccinations and warfarin monitoring.The delivery of these and other patient centred services is recommended in the Government’s recently released Pharmacy Action Plan and New Zealand Health Strategy.

The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand released a position paper today responding to the Government’s plans to remove provisions restricting majority ownership and effective control of pharmacies to pharmacists, as part of a new regime regulating therapeutic products.

“We have comprehensively reviewed a wide-range of international evidence and experience to determine what the effect of removing pharmacy ownership restrictions has had on access and cost of medicines, quality and safety, as well as the professional role of pharmacists,” says Graeme Smith, National President.

“Professionally, pharmacists in deregulated countries are reporting greater professional – corporate conflict and pressure to meet quotas and sales targets.Significant concerns are being expressed about increased risks to patient care and safety, and also a reduced capability to provide enhanced roles and services,” Graeme says.

The review also indicates that removing pharmacy ownership restrictions could worsen urban-rural inequities in the provision of health care and reduce access to medicines and pharmacist advice for people with social economic, demographic or geographic barriers. This would particularly affect care for children, older people and Māori living in those areas. Effectively exacerbating the health care inequities that regions such as Northland and the West Coast already face.

Reduced competition and patient choice could be another unintended consequence of the proposed change.

The international experience and evidence presented in this review and position statement demonstrates the advantages of retaining the restrictions of pharmacy ownership to pharmacists.

“We look forward to working with the Ministry of Health to develop an enabling and effective regulatory process for pharmacy ownership and licensing that supports access and affordability while ensuring patient choice for safe and quality pharmacy services,” Graeme says.

Regulation of Pharmacy Ownership - Review Paper and Position Statement