Location rules change

The Pharmacy Location Rules have been changed, with the new criteria to apply from October 3, 2018.

The rules relate to the establishment of a new pharmacy or the relocation of an existing pharmacy which has approval to provide PBS medicines under section 90 of the National Health Act 1953.

The main changes to the rules include:

  • Increased flexibility to allow pharmacies to relocate out of a large shopping centre, by reducing the straight-line distance that proposed premises must be from other existing pharmacies not located in the same large shopping centre, from 500m to 300m.
  • Amendments to address the practice commonly known as ‘backfilling’, where a pharmacy relocates out of a large shopping centre and immediately applies to establish a new pharmacy in the same centre. The new requirements are intended to prevent the establishment of a new additional pharmacy in a large shopping centre where it is the replacement for a previous pharmacy that relocated out of the shopping centre within the previous 12-month period.
  • An increase to the time that a pharmacy must remain in one location prior to relocating, from two years to five years. Transitional arrangements of six months from October 3, 2018 have been included, which provide for the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority to consider the two-year requirement rather than the new five-year requirement.
  • The introduction of a new rule that allows Pharmacy to relocate between 1km and 1.5km from an existing location. This provides a degree of flexibility to relocate an existing approval, while avoiding unnecessary clustering of approved premises by requiring that the proposed premises must be a minimum distance from the nearest approved premises.
  • Amending some of the definitions, for example:
    • Replacing ‘facility’ with ‘designated complex’ to describe a small shopping centre, a large shopping centre, a large medical centre or a large private hospital;
    • Changing the definition of ‘gross leasable area’ (GLA) as it applies to a supermarket, to recognise the difficulty that some applicants had in sourcing the GLA as it was defined. The new definition is based on sources of evidence that are more reliable and readily accessible to applicants;
    • Changing the definition of ‘large shopping centre’ to include a supermarket with a GLA of 2,500sqm rather than 1,000sqm, to be consistent with the supermarket GLA required for a small shopping centre.
  • Due to the amended rules, any application lodged on or after October 3 will be considered under the amended rules. Any applications received prior to this date will be considered under the rules in effect prior to this date.

The Health Department says the amended rules are intended to provide further stability for the community pharmacy network and address a number of minor anomalies that have been identified over time. The legislative instrument under which the rules are given effect has been updated in line with current drafting preferences, which has changed the order of some of the requirements and given a slightly different look to the rules.

The changes have been agreed between the Health Department and the Pharmacy Guild, as the peak body that represents the interests of community pharmacy proprietors, and approved by the Heath Minister.

The rules remain consistent with the overall objective of the National Medicines Policy: to improve the health outcomes of all Australians through access to and quality use of medicines.