CHEMIST Warehouse may not be coming to Wagga anytime soon, but residents are showing their support for the discount chain with their keyboards.
Managing partnerr Mario Tascone said the highest percentage of the company’s online shoppers came from Wagga.
He was frustrated that location rules stopped the company from physically setting up shop when there was clear demand.
The passing of the Abbott government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Access and Sustainability Package, means no changes to location rules will be made in the next five years.
As the rules stand, pharmacies must be at least 1.5 kilometres from an existing outlet.
Under the package an independent review of pharmacy location rules and remuneration will take place, but no changes could be implemented until after 2020.
This year, Chemist Warehouse director Damien Gance told the Advertiser the discount giant was effectively barred from Wagga due to suffocating relocation rules that left the city’s pharmacies under the control of a few owners.
“We have no capacity (to open a store in Wagga). The pharmacy industry is a closed shop, (you can only open a new store) if you acquire an existing pharmacy,” he said.
Wagga health advocate Craig Hesketh slammed the government’s pledge to conduct an independent inquiry saying it was “not good enough”.
“I believe we should have Chemist Warehouse in Wagga,” Mr Hesketh said.
“But the wheels of democracy turn very slowly.”
Mr Hesketh said five years was too long and he had hoped to see significant changes in the “next few years”.
“(Non-prescription drugs) are the areas that pharmacies, when they don’t have competition, will perform mark-ups.”
Mr Hesketh drew the line at allowing big supermarkets to have a piece of the pharmacy pie, but said healthy competition between professional bodies was needed.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack maintained his staunch advocacy for location rules.
“Places (like Chemist Warehouse) could come to Wagga if they wanted to,” Mr McCormack said.
“They want everything and if we start messing with these sorts of rules what has happened to petrol will happen to chemists,” he said.
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