By Australian law, a pharmacist can own an interest in 5 pharmacies per state. Theoretically, one pharmacist could own 35 pharmacies (If they felt so inclined). However, it is also the responsibility of the owner pharmacist to know about the activities that occur within the pharmacy which they own. State councils are becoming increasingly concerned about the number of “absentee” owners who may own multiple pharmacies, often interstate, that they have never stepped foot inside their store.
In their July 2019 communiqué the VPA expressed particular concerns about pharmacy licensees being “approached by pharmacists trained in compounding and agreed to hand over responsibility to them for establishing a compounding service within the pharmacy”. Unfortunately for the pharmacists “handing over responsibility”, this couldn’t be further from the reality. As per the Pharmacy Board Guidelines on responsibilities of pharmacists when practising as proprietors, it is the responsibility of any registered pharmacist who is a proprietor of, or who has a pecuniary interest in a pharmacy business to be aware of the business being conducted and intervene when this business is not in accordance with applicable laws, standards and guidelines. So although another pharmacist may manage the compounding practise, the onus still lands with the proprietor; absent or otherwise. Without a full understanding of compounding, pharmacy owners who employ managing compounding pharmacists open themselves to a plethora of risks, including to patient safety, occupational health and safety, and issues with legal compliance.
One way that proprietors can safe guard themselves and their business is by employing quality assurance systems. Required by the PSA’s professional practise standards, all compounding pharmacies should use a quality assurance system consisting of policies and procedures for compounding operations, thorough training and validation of staff and risk assessment of compounding practises. A good quality assurance system sets a standard of work and expectation of quality, but more importantly creates a mechanism for managers and proprietors to regularly review the compounding activities and detect errors to enable them to intervene where necessary. Key components of a quality assurance system provide pharmacy owners with the ability to assess and minimise risk within their compounding practice without physically being in the pharmacy everyday.
1. Victorian Pharmacy Authority Communique No.6 2019
2. Pharmacy Board Guidelines on responsibilities of pharmacists when practising as proprietors
3. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Professional Practise Standards