RACGP criticises Queensland Government for putting pharmacy owner profits ahead of patients

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has called on the Queensland Government to explain why it has prioritised existing pharmacy owners ahead of patient access to cheaper medicines and greater choice in pharmacy services.

It comes following the Government passing the Pharmacy Business Ownership Bill unchanged and neglecting to heed RACGP calls to reform outdated rules to open up the sector to competition, help drive down consumer costs, increase choice, and enhance innovation.

RACGP Queensland Chair, Dr Cathryn Hester, said that it was a missed opportunity.

“This is very disappointing news for patients across Queensland,” she said.

“Again and again, we have urged the Government to overhaul outdated and anti-competitive pharmacy ownership and location laws. These laws limit competition and make it harder for patients to access discounted pharmacy services, resulting in higher costs and limited choice. Many reviews have recommended change, and this Bill was the perfect opportunity to do just that. That opportunity is now gone, and Queensland consumers will continue to miss out.”

Dr Hester said that entrenching the status quo for established pharmacy owners could not come at a worse time.

“At a time of high cost of living pressures squeezing many households, Queenslanders deserve better,” she said.

“People right across the state are struggling to afford to buy groceries and school supplies, fill up the car, book medical appointments and purchase the medicines they need. The Government had the chance to give them a helping hand and opted not to. So, instead, it will be the same old story of limited consumer choice, stifled competition, and slow enhancements to the pharmacy sector. Existing pharmacy owners win, and you lose.”

The RACGP Queensland Chair said that the laws could also hamper efforts to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

“The anti-competitive laws also mean that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Health Organisations in Queensland can’t own and operate a pharmacy,” she said.

“The laws block any opportunity for these health services to own and run their own pharmacies if they see this as beneficial to their communities. This is despite repeated calls for them to be exempt.”


/Public Release.