Pharmacy Location Rules (the Rules) and the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority (ACPA)

This site provides information about the Rules and the ACPA.

Page last updated: 25 July 2016

The latest news and updates with regard to the Rules and the ACPA is available on the Pharmacy Location Rules News page.

Pharmacy Location Rules

The Rules are a fundamental component of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (the Sixth Agreement) between the Commonwealth of Australia (as represented by the Australian Government Department of Health) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (the Guild). This Agreement commenced on 1 July 2015 and terminates on 30 June 2020.

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 Act).

A ‘Comprehensive Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation’, including the Rules and their role in supporting access to PBS Medicines, will be undertaken as required under the Sixth Agreement. Information on this review and other PBS Access and Sustainability Measures can be found on the ‘PBS Access and Sustainability Package including the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement’ page on the PBS Website.

The Rules, which took effect on 18 October 2011, were agreed by the Department and the Guild. Minor amendments were recently incorporated into the Rules and affect applications made on or after 10 November 2015. The Rules are legislated under the National Health (Australian Community Pharmacy Authority Rules) Determination 2011 made under section 99L of the Act.

The Pharmacy Location Rules – Applicant’s Handbook has been updated to reflect the amendments.

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.

The Rules set out location-based criteria which must be met in order for the ACPA to recommend approval of a pharmacist. The ACPA cannot override the requirements of the Rules. It can only recommend that an application be approved if it is satisfied that all of the requirements of the Rule, under which the application was made, have been met. Similarly, the ACPA is unable to recommend that an application be approved if it is not satisfied that each of the requirements has been met.

All applications are to be lodged through the Department of Human Services and require the use of the application form available on the Department of Human Services website. Applicants wishing to lodge an application for consideration under the Rules should consult the Pharmacy Location Rules – Applicant’s Handbook.

Australian Community Pharmacy Authority (ACPA)

The ACPA is an independent statutory authority established under section 99J of the Act.

The ACPA has six part-time members, five of whom are appointed by the Minister and one appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Health (the Secretary).

The ACPA considers applications for approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits under section 90 of the Act and makes recommendations to delegated officers as to whether or not an application should be approved.

Note: The Secretary’s responsibilities concerning the approval of pharmacists have been conferred on the Chief Executive Medicare, who has delegated these powers to certain officers in the Department of Human Services.

In making its recommendation to the Secretary’s delegate in the Department of Human Services, the ACPA must comply with the requirements specified in the Rules as determined by the Minister.

The Department of Health provides secretariat services to the ACPA. The ACPA Secretariat also assists applicants with enquiries about the Rules, and serves as the liaison between pharmacists and the ACPA.

Contact details are as follows:

Australian Community Pharmacy Authority Secretariat
Department of Health
GPO Box 9848 (MDP 1011)

Telephone: 02 6289 2419
Facsimile: 02 6289 2365
Email the ACPA

Applications for approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits under section 90 of the National Health Act 1953 Top of page

The Pharmacy Location Rules – Applicant’s Handbook (revised in November 2015) provides pharmacists with comprehensive information about:

    • the Rules and the ACPA;
    • the application process including the requirements that must be satisfied and the types of information that must be included in an application; and
    • seeking further information or assistance.
It is up to the applicant to select the rule which best suits their situation as each rule has different requirements. Applicants must satisfy all of the requirements for a particular rule if they are to receive a recommendation for approval from the ACPA.

A completed application form must be lodged with the Department of Human Services, together with all of the supporting documents before the deadline for the corresponding ACPA meeting. The Department of Human Services will register applications before forwarding them to the ACPA secretariat in the Department of Health.

Complete applications should be lodged by email to the NSW PBS Approvals Clerk. Individual emails, including attachments cannot exceed 100 Mb. For more information contact a Pharmacy Programme Officer on 132 290.

Please note: It is advisable for an applicant to retain the original documentation and provide copies with the application as no paperwork will be returned.

ACPA Meeting dates

The ACPA meeting dates for the remainder of 2015, and 2016, and the corresponding application lodgement timeframes for complete applications to be received by the Department of Human Services are outlined in the table below.
Please note these dates are subject to change.

(Table current as at 16 September 2015)

ACPA Meeting dateTimeframe to lodge an Application with the Department of Human ServicesTimeframe to lodge an Application with the Department of Human Services
2 October 2015Tuesday 28 July 2015Monday 31 August 2015
6 November 2015Tuesday 1 September 2015Monday 5 October 2015
11 December 2015Tuesday 6 October 2015Monday 9 November 2015
22 January 2016 Tuesday 10 November 2015 Monday 14 December 2015
26 February 2016 Tuesday 15 December 2015 Monday 25 January 2016
1 April 2016 Tuesday 26 January 2016 Monday 29 February 2016
29 April 2016 Tuesday 1 March 2016 Tuesday 29 March 2016
27 May 2016 Wednesday 30 March 2016 Tuesday 26 April 2016
24 June 2016 Wednesday 27 April 2016 Monday 23 May 2016
29 July 2016 Tuesday 24 May 2016 Monday 27 June 2016
26 August 2016 Tuesday 28 June 2016 Monday 25 July 2016
30 September 2016 Tuesday 26 July 2016 Monday 29 August 2016
4 November 2016 Tuesday 30 August 2016 Tuesday 4 October 2016
9 December 2016 Wednesday 5 October 2016 Monday 7 November 2016

Note: Application lodgement timeframes are to ensure that the Department of Human Services and the ACPA Secretariat have sufficient time to process and register applications, undertake consultation with third parties where relevant and for the ACPA to give proper consideration of applications.

ACPA Recommendations

The ACPA Secretariat will endeavour to advise applicants and surrounding pharmacists of decisions within the following timeframes:

ACPA recommends that an application be approved

If the ACPA has made a decision to recommend that an application be approved, in most cases the Secretary’s delegate in the Department of Human Services will be advised of the decision in writing the next working day after the meeting.

Note: If the recommendation by the ACPA is to approve the application, the relevant delegate in the Department of Human Services is responsible for granting the approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits. Applicants should contact a Pharmacy Programme Officer in the Department of Human Services by phoning 132 290 to discuss the next steps in the process.

ACPA defers making a recommendation on an application

If the ACPA defers consideration of the application to the next meeting, the Secretariat will endeavour to advise the applicant of the reasons for the deferral within three to five working days after the meeting.

ACPA recommends that an application not be approved

If the ACPA has made a decision to recommend that an application not be approved, it will endeavour to inform the applicant of the decision, including the reason(s) for the decision and the rights of review within ten working days after the meeting.

Surrounding pharmacists who provided comments on an application

The ACPA will endeavour to advise the outcome of an application to any pharmacist/s who provided comments to the ACPA, as soon as practicable, but generally no sooner than ten working days after a meeting.

How do I contact the ACPA?

The ACPA Secretariat can be contacted by phoning (02) 6289 2419 and leaving your name, phone number and a brief message about your inquiry. If you are phoning about your application, please quote your application reference number when leaving your message.

A member of the Secretariat will return your call as soon as possible. Please note that it is not always possible for the Secretariat to return calls on the same business day, but please be assured that your call will returned as soon as possible.

Alternatively, send an email to the APCA, or write to the ACPA at the Department of Health, MDP 1011, GPO Box 9848, Canberra ACT 2601. Your enquiry will be answered as soon as practicable.

Ministerial Discretion

The Minister for Health has a discretionary power to approve pharmacies in unusual circumstances where the application of the location rules results in a community being left without reasonable access to the supply of pharmaceutical benefits by an approved pharmacist, and approval of the pharmacy is in the public interest. Further information on the Minister’s discretionary power is available at the Ministerial Discretion on Pharmacy Location home page.

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