WAGGA needs a Chemist Warehouse to increase competition and drive down prices, says medical campaigner Bob Bowcher.
Wagga, NSW largest regional inland city does not have a Chemist Warehouse – while Griffith and Albury both have a store.
Summit Discount managing pharmacist Pamela Wallace said competition was already fierce in Wagga, and changing ownership laws would have a negative impact on the industry – affecting both owners and customers.
Mrs Wallace fears market deregulation would see supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths start selling medication – something she said would erode the industry.
“They would not be a providing a service, they would be focused on providing a sale,” Mrs Wallace said.
Mrs Wallace said some pharmacies traded until 9pm, with most trading seven days a week until 6pm.
“People are not losing access,” she said.
Mr Bowcher does not agree.
He said a failed development application in 2011 for a Chemist Warehouse resulted in some pharmacies extending their trading hours.
“Successful competition is good for price and service,” Mr Bowcher said.
“I think competition would encourage pharmacies to life their game,”
Mr Bowcher fears that if competition such as Chemist Warehouse is deterred from setting up shop in Wagga, pharmacies will become content and shorten their trading hours once more.
“I believe a Chemist Warehouse would be very good for Wagga, if we can have a Dan Murphy’s why can’t we have a Chemist Warehouse?”
Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire welcomed the idea of new businesses coming to the city.
Mr Maguire said "old and antiquated guidelines” restricted pharmacies from setting up.
“If the public see those territorial rules as impacting them they will take it up with the (federal) government.
Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said he believed in keeping local pharmacies in business.
“If you don’t support the local pharmacies you lose them,” Mr McCormack said.
Mr McCormack said local pharmacies offered excellent service that would not be found in “Chemist Warehouse type operations”.
He said pharmacy location regulations were in place for a reason.
A Chemist Warehouse spokeswoman confirmed there were no immediate plans to build in Wagga.
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