Free-market fanatics plan to kill off yet another industry… owner-operator pharmacies

Nov 2, 2021

Free-market fanatics plan to kill off yet another industry… owner-operator pharmacies

Nov 2, 2021

KENNEDY MP, Bob Katter, says a plan floated by the AMA (Australian Medical Association) to deregulate pharmacies by expanding the sale of medicines to vending machines in GP clinics, supermarkets and online, is a ‘wicked proposal’ that he will fight tenaciously.[1]

“The people pushing the deregulation of all our industries seem to have a hatred of the Australian way of life, which is the ordinary bloke having a go,” Mr Katter said.

“They won’t rest until ‘Cold’ and ‘Worthless’ own everything, are foreign-owned companies, and have 100 percent market share.

“The free-marketeers have destroyed taxi licence owners, they’ve destroyed owner-operator supermarkets, they’ve destroyed more than 150,000 farmers, they’ve destroyed the livelihoods of trawlermen and fishermen, and now they’re looking for other owner-operator industries that they can do away with.

“I am calling on every pharmacy in Queensland, and around Australia, to ask their local Member of Parliament, ‘are you going to vote for, or against this proposal?’ And if they are voting for it, the pharmacy should put up a sign saying this man or woman wants to destroy your local pharmacy. Take them on. Politicians are cowards.”

Mr Katter said pharmacies played a vital service in north and regional Queensland with their longer opening hours and availability.

“I once went to a pharmacy at 10pm to get cream for a pimple, except it wasn’t a pimple,” he said.

“It was shingles. And the pharmacist diagnosed it on the spot, and he said it was very serious. He asked how long I’d had it, and I said two days. Well, if I left it longer than three days it would have been life changing. So, if it wasn’t for that pharmacy open late at night, things could’ve turned out very differently.

“This story could be replicated one-thousand times over. Under this new plan, instead of seeing a pharmacy you’ll have to see a doctor, but we don’t have any doctors open late at night.”

Mr Katter said medical centres should be spending their time on the doctor shortage, which is endangering regional Australia, instead of trying to enrich themselves by targeting the hardworking Australians who own pharmacies.

“If the doctors get the pharmacies, you can rest assured, they’ll double the medication regime,” he said.

“I have many towns that have been blessed with saints for local doctors and they would never dream of wiping out their local pharmacy. But in the bigger cities, who knows.”

Cairns Pharmacist, Matthew Calanna of Callana Pharmacy said the AMA’s propositions made little sense and could compromise the structure of the entire health system.

“They are looking to change the model which impacts 6000 community pharmacies across the country,” Mr Calanna said.

“It’s a model where pretty much everyone in the country can access a community pharmacy within a six-minute drive of their home. It’s a model which is one of the best in the world for subsidised, and affordable medicine, a model that allows for not only the pharmacy to access
important medicine next day (worst case), but also a model that offers the same service no matter if you’re in the CBD of Sydney or
Melbourne or if you’re on Thursday Island – you have the same access to affordable medicine.

“A pharmacy is much more than putting a sticker on a bottle. If you’re a pension card holder, the current service means you can get your medicine by next day delivery, it doesn’t matter where you are. E-health means pharmacies have more transparency on what has been prescribed, we are able to have more in depth conversations with patients and provide more advice.

“And that is the system that we believe strongly in and what I also believe the AMA is trying to undermine. I don’t think they understand the complexity and importance of what we do and how the system works.

“Pharmacies are open longer hours and are more accessible than a doctors’ surgery, we pack medicine and do home delivery – how’s a vending machine going to do that in a doctors’ surgery?

“Throughout the pandemic, community pharmacy stayed open the whole time, nonstop, with increased services. A lot of doctors’ surgeries closed through the pandemic. Let the doctors practice medicine and not complicate the issue with having to manage stock levels. A pharmacist manages the point of sale, it manages the pharmaceutical benefit scheme, it manages the personal health history, a patient’s compliance with medicines – let us do that and let the doctors do what they are supposed to do.

“I don’t think this model will improve accessibility. It isn’t going to make any significant difference for the better, but I fear it will compromise the existing structure of a pharmacy in particular, the health system overall and outside of that, it will not deliver any benefit to the wider community.”