THE Pharmacy Guild of Australia has bitten back at the Australian Financial Review’s opinion article writer Terry Barnes, who has written a scathing article about “one of the most anti-competitive, over-subsidised and hyper-regulated sectors of the Australian economy, retail pharmacy”.
Using, or over-using, analogy references to various bird species to help make his point, Barnes cites the success of the Chemist Warehouse chain (which he incorrectly implied was a Guild member group) as an entrepreneurial demonstration of “getting around” the pharmacy location and ownership rules, which the Productivity Commissioner Stephen King also criticised.
The Turnbull government rejected those recommendations, and Barnes agreed that a Labour government would have done the same, keeping them central to the 6 CPA in recognition of the potential negative impact any changes would have, especially on the viability of PBS funded dispensary product supplies in rural and remote Australia.
A Guild spokesperson’s eagle-eye saw the AFR article and simply had to respond to the editor.
Never one to be called a chicken, he replied somewhat tongue-in-cheek to Barnes, who is principal of Cormorant Policy Advice, saying, “With a consultancy named Cormorant, it is no surprise Terry Barnes favours ornithological references — but really, ducks, ostriches and cassowaries in one article?
“He left out the wise owl who recognises that the regulation around pharmacy in Australia provides public benefit and forms a vital part of our health system.
“To do as Terry suggests and allow pharmacies to be ‘owned by anybody and located anywhere’ would be, well, cuckoo.”