Pledge to keep retail giants out of pharmacy trade

THE major supermarket chains will not be allowed to enter the pharmacy industry, Health Minister Peter Dutton has promised the powerful Pharmacy Guild in a conference on the Gold Coast.

Mr Dutton addressed the conference on Thursday night, re-committing the government to its election promise to not allow "the retail giants into pharmacy".

He also pledged the Coalition would continue to support the successive "community pharmacy agreements" which prevents new pharmacies being opened near existing ones.

But his speech also intimated the Health Minister's preference for pharmacists to get more involved in e-Health, in a bid to improve regional and remote health outcomes.

"The ongoing evolution needs careful consideration and the appropriate evidence base and consultation to ensure we get the right mix, to keep growing the role of pharmacists as health care professionals and also to meet the needs of consumers," he said.

"I believe we also need to progress the - so far largely unrealised - potential that eHealth offers both to your business in reducing administrative burden, but also to patients through improved and streamlined access to their medicines and medical care."

While Mr Dutton did not outright say pharmacies would be able to provide more services, such as vaccination, his comments have lent support to such proposals, as put by the Grattan Institute last year.

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