Pharmacy Location Rules Frequently Asked Questions for the implementation of the amended Rules - 2018

Page last updated: 06 December 2018

Frequently Asked Questions for the implementation of the amended Rules - 2018 (PDF 249 KB)

When do the amended Rules come into effect?

The amended Rules come into effect on 3 October 2018, which means that any application lodged on or after this date will be considered under the amended Rules. Any applications received prior to this date will be considered under the Rules in effect prior to 3 October 2018.

Why have the Rules been changed?

The amended Rules are intended to provide further stability of 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 Department of Health and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, as the peak body that represents the interests of community pharmacy proprietors, and approved by the Minister for Health.

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.

What are the major changes to the Rules?

In summary, the main changes to the Rules are:

  1. increased flexibility to allow pharmacists 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 500 m to 300 m;
  2. 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 that 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 of a previous pharmacy that relocated out of the shopping centre within the previous 12 month period;
  3. a reduction in the straight line distance that a proposed new large medical centre pharmacy needs to be from existing pharmacies, from 500 m to 300 m;
  4. an increase to the time that a pharmacist must remain in one location prior to relocating, from two years to five years. Transitional arrangements of six months from 3 October 2018 have been included which provide for the ACPA to consider the two year requirement rather than the new five year requirement;
  5. the introduction of a new rule that allows pharmacies to relocate between 1 km and 1.5 km from the existing location. This provides a degree of flexibility to relocate an existing approval whilst avoiding unnecessary clustering of approved premises by requiring that the proposed premises must be a minimum distance from the nearest approved premises;
  6. 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’ 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 2,500 m2 rather than 1,000 m2, to be consistent with the supermarket GLA required for a small shopping centre.

I already own and operate a pharmacy - how do these changes affect me?

If you already own and operate a pharmacy and do not wish to relocate the pharmacy, it is business as usual. The Rules only affect pharmacists wishing to establish a new pharmacy or relocate an existing pharmacy.

Where can I find out more about the changes?

More information about the changes will be available on the Department of Health’s website.

What happens if I have a legal right to premises before the date the amended Rules come into effect but I am affected by the amendments?

The amended Rules include transitional provisions for applicants who were planning to lodge an application to relocate an existing premises and who had secured a legal right to premises prior to 3 October 2018. These provisions will expire on 3 April 2019.

How do I make an application?

From 11 December 2018, all applications must be lodged with the Department of Health rather than the Department of Human Services (DHS). This is the result of a 2018 Budget measure which sees the transfer of administrative functions relating to pharmacy approvals from DHS to Health from this date. Pharmacists wishing to lodge an application to relocate an existing or establish a new pharmacy should consult the current Pharmacy Location Rules – Applicant’s Handbook which is available on the Department of Health’s website.

Where do I find the meeting dates?

The meeting dates and the relevant application lodgement periods are available on the Department of Health’s website.

Is there a new application form?

Yes, a new application form is required for applications made after 3 October 2018. The new application form is available on the Department of Health’s website. Pharmacists considering making an application are strongly advised to consult the Pharmacy Location Rules Applicant’s Handbook before commencing preparation of an application.

What is required in an application?

An application to establish a new pharmacy or relocate an existing pharmacy must be made on the approved form available from the Department of Human Services. The application must also include all supporting documents relevant to the application. The ACPA is only able to consider information provided by an applicant at the time the application was lodged.

Can the ACPA ask me for extra information?

Yes. In considering an application, the ACPA may defer making a recommendation on the application until the next available meeting, to request additional information from the applicant or in some cases, a third party/s.

How are applications assessed?

The ACPA is required to assess applications against each of the requirements of the relevant Rule under which the application has been made. The ACPA can only recommend that an application be approved if it is satisfied that all of the requirements of the Rules under which the application has been made have been met.

The ACPA is unable to recommend that an application be approved if it is not satisfied that each of the requirements has been met.

Are there any changes to the process for lodging an appeal or requesting the Minister to exercise discretion?

No – there are no changes to the process for lodging an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or for making an application to request that the Minister exercise their discretionary power.

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. A member of the Secretariat will return your call as soon as possible. Alternatively, send an email to the ACPA Secretariat.