Sir George backs local pharmacies
16 Mar 2003
Sir George has been contacted by a number of local pharmacies, who are worried that recent proposals to open up the pharmaceutical market to competition will mean they have to close.

"This issue has arisen because the Office of Fair Trading has published a report - currently the subject of public consultation - which would open up the pharmacy-based prescription dispensing market to unlimited competition. This would allow supermarkets to set up pharmacies whenever they wished to do so. My instinct would, of course, be to support the concept of free and open competition. However, on this occasion I have to set this against my deep concern about the implications of such a change on the service provided by local pharmacies."

"Unlike most industries, the size of the market is limited by, in this instance, the amount of money that the NHS is willing to allocate to prescription drugs. If the supermarkets are given free access to the market, smaller pharmacies will come under intense pressure, and are likely to find it difficult to survive."

"Although there are arguments for some change to the current system, I would not wish to see any developments that put into jeopardy the future of local pharmacies, particularly those in the smaller towns and villages. This is particularly important at a time when thousands of local post offices are also being closed, threatening the core of many local town and village centres. In Andover, we know we are going to lose a Post Office; we don't want to lose a pharmacy as well."

"Deregulation will create widespread instability in the marketplace, put a blight on pharmacy investment in premises and risks reducing access to community-based local pharmacy services."

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