PHARMACY Guild executive director David Quilty has urged community pharmacies to “genuinely and optimistically embrace change,” rather than bewailing a pharmacy future dominated by big business.
Writing in the Guild’s Forefront newsletter yesterday, Quilty said Chemist Warehouse’s wholesaling switch from Sigma to EBOS (PD 02 Jul) and the US purchase of PillPack by Amazon (PD 03 Jul) “seem to have woken the community pharmacy doom and gloom merchants from their slumber”.
He noted that despite negative sentiment in the market, “big business is more on the nose today than any time in living memory so what politician in their right mind is going to hand over the ownership of pharmacy to the big corporates”.
Similarly, despite ongoing speculation about deregulation, “earlier this year the location rules were locked in by legislation that was supported by all the main political parties”.
In regard to the potential for Amazon to enter the pharmacy market, “no online provider can compete with the convenience of community pharmacy while the Federal Government sets the patient co-payment for PBS subsidised medicines,” he said.
And no machine – no matter how smart – “can go close to replicating the human touch that is the hallmark of community pharmacy”.
Quilty noted that a successful future must always be earned, and it won’t be handed to pharmacy on a platter, but for pharmacies that embrace technology, know their patients, are excellent in running their businesses, and can integrate effectively with the broader health system, “there is every reason to believe they will continue to be prosperous for many years to come.
“The news for the naysayers is that community pharmacy continues to have the overwhelming support of the public and is not going anywhere,” he said, highlighting the recently completed Community Pharmacy 2025 issues report (PD 27 Jun) which has identified nine growth pathways for the industry.