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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : August 2005
news news Break up retailing giants says Guild T HE supermarket retailing duopoly in Australia posed a significant threat to small business and, in the interest of true competition, it was time for the govern- ment to look at dismantling the conglom- erates. So says Pharmacy Guild of Aus- tralia national president, John Bronger. ‘The time is surely here, with Wool- worths and Coles-Myer having swallowed up entire retail sectors, to question whether these corporate giants should be allowed to expand like this forever. ‘They hide behind the guise of increased competition, yet they represent the most anti-competitive face of business, using predatory pricing to drive smaller operators out of business and gut towns and suburbs in the process,’ he said. Mr Bronger said the question needed to be asked: how much is enough? Indepen- dent butchers, florists and greengrocers More than a snake charmer had all but vanished, and the same was now happening to petrol stations and liquor stores. Pharmacy was next. He said the CEO of Woolworths had ducked the issue of his company’s domi- nance when he gave evidence to the Sen- ate inquiry into protection of small busi- ness under the Trade Practices Act by disputing the accuracy of data by which market share is measured. ‘I am calling on all political parties to look seriously at anti-trust legislation as a means of ensuring that no market is dom- inated by such large players like Telstra in communications and Woolworths and Coles-Myer in retailing. ‘National competition policy was devised to enhance competition and, in the main, this has been beneficial. But it was never envisaged as a tool to harass the most diverse and competitive sector in EALTH Minister Tony Abbott has exempted Pfizer’s atorvastatin drug, Lipitor, from the Government’s 12.5 per cent price reduction from 1 August fol- lowing a recommendation by the Phar- maceutical Benefits Advisory Committee that atorvastatin is more effective at low- ering cholesterol than simvastatin. The decision means that patients won’t have to pay any more than the standard copayment, but it will cost the PBS an extra $237m over four years—the amount of savings expected if Lipitor had T he diversity of pharmacist Darijo Cakarun’s (pictured) skills came to the fore when confronted with an unusual health problem: Charlie the python had a wounded tail. After close up inspection, betadine antispetic liquid was applied. ‘Charlie’s owner was grateful for our fearless service and was happy to let Charlie give me a hug of thanks personally,’ said Mr Cakarun from Southpoint Pharmacy in NSW. ¦ OU can win $10,000 worth of Qantas Holidays and help improve pharmacy’s supply chain at the same time. The Pharmacy Pulse survey (AJP July 2005) aims to provide community pharmacy with a voice to its suppliers and, thus, improve the supply chain. But we need at least 200 of you to complete the survey to ensure its Australia, small business, but this is what has happened.’ He said evidence of anti-competitive behaviour was everywhere, the latest example being Woolworths and Coles- Myer’s Liquorland being charged by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for alleged breaches of the Trade Practices Act in relation to liquor retailing. Mr Bronger said that in the US it would be illegal for Woolworths and Coles-Myer to operate as they do because of the anti- trust laws that are in place to protect against market dominance. ‘This is not new and the original legis- lation in the US dates back to the Sherman Act of 1890 which was designed to prevent large corporations from creating restraints on trade or commerce and thereby reduc- ing competition,’ Mr Bronger said. Lipitor dodges 12.5 per cent hike H been forced to drop its price by 12.5 per cent as had been anticipated. While the decision will benefit the patient, Pfizer, the wholesalers and com- munity pharmacies, it was made without following the normal process of having the recommendation go through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Author- ity. Nor did it go to Cabinet, which is the usual practice with PBAC recommenda- tions that have a price tag of $10m or more. See more commentary in Capital Hill on p602. Improve pharmacy supply chain and WIN Y validity, so the competition has been extended until 26 August. This gives you great odds to win the Qantas Holidays prize. If you don’t have the July issue of the AJP, the survey is available online at www.appco.com.au and the Guild’s Gold Cross Products and Services website www.goldx.com.au. ¦ ¦ ¦ THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL 86 AUGUST 2005 ? 593