Khanbhai backs small pharmacies Jul03


Bashir Khanbhai, Conservative Euro MP for the East of England, has rejected the government's announcement on the issue of lifting restrictions on the number of pharmacies operating in Britain. While rightly rejecting a complete deregulation of the pharmaceutical market, as called for by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the government has also agreed to a number of damaging exemptions.


The OFT study published in January, argued for the removal of entry barriers in the pharmacy industry, which could have resulted in legislation allowing supermarkets to open in-house pharmacies competing directly and unfairly with independent chemists. At present, supermarket pharmacies are only permitted wherever there is a genuine need and where they do not pose a threat to independent chemists rendering a valuable service to the local community.


Under the new proposals, pharmacies which remain open for more than 100 hours a week would be exempt from regulation along with pharmacies intending to open up in large shopping centres, defined as more than 15,000 square metres in size.


Commenting on this decision, Mr. Khanbhai, a qualified pharmacist who has been campaigning against the OFT's recommendations said:


"This decision is completely irrational because the proposed exemptions will simply lead to de-regulation of the market by the back door.


"Small, independent pharmacies provide a vital service. Allowing exemptions to these regulations would threaten the survival of the thousands of local pharmacies which many older people and those living in rural communities greatly rely on."