Media release

New laws put pharmacy owners ahead of First Nations communities

The Queensland Parliament has ignored advice from First Nations groups, health organisations and the Productivity Commission and will make it harder for new pharmacies to open.

AMA Queensland is dismayed the Queensland Parliament has passed unnecessary, anti-competitive laws that lock Aboriginal health services out of owning pharmacies.

“It is profoundly disappointing that both sides of politics have chosen to ignore medical groups, First Nations organisations and the Productivity Commission to pass the Pharmacy Business Ownership Bill unchanged,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said.

“The Government, the Opposition and the Greens must explain why they are prioritising the profits of pharmacy owners over the health of our First Nations people.

“The pharmacy sector already has unnecessary restrictions on who can own a pharmacy. It is the only healthcare sector with these restrictions.

“A pharmacist can own a general practice, but a GP cannot own a pharmacy.

“An Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation can own and run all parts of a collaborative health service except the pharmacy.

“First Nations Queenslanders should be able to fill prescriptions and receive medication advice in a culturally safe way. Pharmacies owned by the community-controlled sector will be driven by a team-based approach, not by profit.

“However, these new laws block anyone other than a pharmacist or a close family member from owning a pharmacy. This is completely anti-competitive and not in the interests of community health.

“AMA Queensland, the RACGP, the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the Productivity Commission all urged the parliament to reject these laws or, at the very least, exempt First Nations health services.

“The Health Minister has said she will consult with QAIHC and the Commonwealth Government to find a solution. There is no need to consult further – the Government has been advised about this issue in multiple consultations but has chosen to ignore that advice.

“Now it is time to explain why the business interests of pharmacy owners outweigh the health outcomes of our First Nations people.”

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