Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist August 2012 Contents Australian Pharmacist August 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 623
Peter Waterman is the National Public
Affairs Director for PSA.
The future of pharmacy will have a focus
on low-priced, low-margin medicines, and
pharmacists need to get their strategies
in place now to meet the challenges and
opportunities this new environment
This is the view of John Chave, Secretary
General of the Pharmaceutical Group
of the European Union (PGEU) since
June 2006 and one of the international
speakers who will present at PAC12 in
Melbourne later this year.
The PGEU is the European association
representing community pharmacists
in 32 European countries which puts
Mr Chave in a unique position when
looking at the international pharmacy
'The debate in pharmacy in the
EU is dominated by the impact of
the economic crisis,' Mr Chave told
'The majority of EU countries are
reducing prices and reducing payments
to pharmacists, and for the rst time in
probably generations, pharmacies in
many areas are falling into the red.
'But interestingly, although the situation
in countries directly a ected by the crisis
of the Euro is grim, (e.g. Greece, Portugal,
Spain, Ireland and Italy), even in countries
that have fared relatively well over the
past few years (e.g. Finland, Austria,
Netherlands) we are seeing problems.
'Why? Probably two reasons.
First, governments have realised that
they can use more generics and cheaper
generics. In fact they can absolutely
gut generics prices if they want to. For
those countries relying on discounts or
mark ups, the impact is obvious. Second,
governments have been prepared to
make a tough reevaluation of how much
money they are putting into distribution,
and make cuts where necessary.
'Any lesson for Australia here? Assume
the future is going to be low priced, low
margin medicines, and get your strategy
in place now."
Mr Chave said he felt the overriding
challenge facing pharmacy over the long
term was the need to protect what he
called the 'human capital' in pharmacy --
its position as a highly educated, added
value, high-status profession -- in the face
of the generational economic shift he
'For years and years you have been
able to nd people who would tell you
"pharmacy is old fashioned", and that
more mechanisation and di erent forms
of distribution would sweep it away,'
'It never really happened, but part of the
reason was that pharmacy was living on a
steady stream of new, complex, expensive
medicines. That is stopping. A pessimistic
view of the future might suggest that this
will change how policy makers see the
return on investment in pharmacy, if I can
put it that way.'
When asked if Australian pharmacy is
on the right track with its vision for the
future, Mr Chave was positive.
'Let me be frank with you, in terms of
pushing the profession forward, we in
Europe have much more to learn from
you than vice versa,' he said.
'In Australia, you get much more out of
your pharmacies. In many EU countries,
the services pharmacies provide have
hardly changed since the decline of
'What is more -- and this is unique from a
European perspective -- you have done it
within a regulated pharmacy structure.
We often hear that you need a liberalised
market to create innovation in pharmacy
(more competition, more innovation and
so on), but the Australian experience
gives the lie to that. You are very much on
the right track.'
Mr Chave said the ageing population
presented great opportunities for the
He said the paradox pharmacy faced,
at least in Europe was that the proportion
of citizens over 60 was growing
everywhere and older citizens had more
polypharmacy problems and adverse
reactions problems and so on.
'This is occurring just at the time that the
traditional economic model of pharmacy
is being thrown into doubt, we have
probably never needed pharmacists
more,' he said.
'Ditto, rises in chronic disease. Add to
this the decline (at least in the EU) of the
family doctor (they are all retiring), and
the obvious economic case for investing
in primary care services, then all roads
lead to the pharmacy.'
For young pharmacists starting out today,
Mr Chave had some sound advice.
'Have con dence in yourself and what
you can contribute,' he said.
'In the EU, we have a huge problem with
the physicians lobby, which denigrates
pharmacists at every opportunity and
stand in the way of professional evolution.
We are sick and tired of it. We have much
to give and we should be proud of it.'
Mr Chave will be
presenting at the
PAC12 business and
on Saturday, October
20 from 8.45am --
10.15am; and at
the business and
management session 3: Have you got what
you need? on Saturday, October 20 from
10.45am -- 12.15pm.
A low priced low-margin
By Peter Waterman
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