Local pharmacists are concerned changes to ownership laws could result in supermarkets and corporations driving owner-operators out of business.
Local pharmacists are concerned changes to ownership laws could result in supermarkets and corporations driving owner-operators out of business.

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PHARMACISTS say profit could be put before patients if a Queensland parliamentary committee recommends laws be changed to allow corporate ownership of pharmacies.

Foote's Pharmacy, Riverlink Medical Centre Pharmacy and Brassall Pharmacy were among many local chemists who urged against changing ownership laws. 

At the moment only registered pharmacists can own pharmacies, up to a maximum of five. Many pharmacies are aligned to large franchise brands, but the brand does not own the store.

But chemists argue some corporations skirt the law using complicated legal and accounting practices.

Pharmacists warn changing this rule may lead to major companies such as Woolworths and Coles dominating the sector.

In a public submission, Foote's Pharmacy proprietor Cameron Foote said cash would come before care if corporations took over the industry.

"Community pharmacy in Queensland is not broken - it is competitive and easily accessed by our community," he said.

"We are well regarded and supported in the communities we represent. We offer our community many services for free which alleviates pressure on GPs and our local hospitals which are struggling to keep up. We do this because we care about ... residents and their health journey is our primary concern as pharmacists."

Proponents of change include Chemist Warehouse, Australian Medical Association of Queensland and major private health provider Ramsay Pharmacy.

But Ramsay Pharmacy, a division of Ramsay Health that controversially bought the Malouf Pharmacy group in 2017, argued the ownership restrictions did not increase health outcomes and restricted a competitive market.

"That there is no evidence to suggest that removal of ownership restrictions, whether wholly or partially, would be detrimental to the community at large," the company said in a statement. -NewsRegional



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