Deactivation of an approved pharmacist - guidelines

Page last updated: 04 December 2018

Meaning of the term “deactivate”
Applications for deactivation
Important considerations
Requests for deactivation
Relationship to the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority process
Making a request to deactivate
Extending the deactivation period
Change of circumstances
Contact us

Meaning of the term “deactivate”

The term “deactivate” is not an expression used or defined in the National Health Act 1953 (the Act). It is, instead an administrative concept, intended to describe situations which arise when the Secretary of Health (or his/her delegate) decides not to cancel an approval under subsection 98(3), notwithstanding that the statutory precondition to such a decision (namely, that the approved pharmacist has ceased to carry on business as a pharmacist at the premises in respect of which the pharmacist is approved) has been satisfied.

The delegate is not bound by these guidelines and is legally obliged to take into consideration all relevant circumstances in reaching a decision in individual cases. In the event of any conflict between these guidelines and the legislation, the legislation prevails.
A decision associated with a request to deactivate an approval, which will result in the cessation of supply of pharmaceutical benefits at particular premises, can only be made by a delegate of the Secretary, under section 98 of the Act.

Applications for deactivation

An approved pharmacist who needs to close their pharmacy temporarily must first request deactivation, in writing, before ceasing supply of pharmaceutical benefits. Closure of a pharmacy without first seeking deactivation may result in the cancellation of the pharmacist’s approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits at those premises. The pharmacist is required to include in the request the reasons for the closure, and, if required, supporting documents.

Important considerations

In considering a request for deactivation, the need for the community to have access to the supply of pharmaceutical benefits is important when deciding whether or not to grant deactivation, and is also a relevant factor in determining the length of time to grant deactivation.

It is important to note that the continuing commercial viability of a pharmacy is not generally a relevant consideration, when deciding whether to grant deactivation.

Requests for deactivation

The delegate will consider a request to deactivate an approval for a short and specific period of time in the following circumstances:
(1) There is no proposed change in the location of the pharmacy or the approved pharmacist
Where:
  • the approved pharmacist needs to close the pharmacy for compelling and demonstrated personal reasons (e.g. illness), and the service of a locum pharmacist could not be obtained to operate the pharmacy; or
  • the approved pharmacist is unable to open the pharmacy for reasons which are beyond the control of the approved pharmacist, such us urgent repairs or unexpected damage.
(2) There is a proposed change in the approved pharmacist and no proposed change in the location of the pharmacy
Where:
  • the approved pharmacist has entered into a contract for sale, transfer or disposal of the pharmacy at its current location; and
  • the approved pharmacist is unable, for reasons beyond their control, to carry on business as a pharmacist at the pharmacy until the transfer of ownership occurs.
(3) There is a proposed change in the location of the pharmacy, irrespective of whether there is also a proposed change in the approved pharmacist
Where:
  • the approved pharmacist wishes to relocate the pharmacy to other premises and is intending to make an application to the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority (the Authority) to relocate and the approved pharmacist cannot, for reasons which are beyond their control, continue to carry on business as a pharmacist at the premises in respect of which the pharmacist is approved; or
  • the approved pharmacist wishes to relocate the pharmacy to other premises and an application has been made to the Authority to relocate and the approved pharmacist cannot, for reasons which are beyond their control, continue to carry on business as a pharmacist at the premises in respect of which the pharmacist is approved; or
  • the Authority has made a recommendation to the Secretary’s delegate to approve an application to relocate the pharmacy and the existing approved pharmacist cannot, for reasons which are beyond their control, continue to carry on business as a pharmacist at the premises in respect of which the pharmacist is approved, or to carry on business as a pharmacist at the proposed premises.
Note - a request to deactivate where the premises have been vacated and the approved pharmacist is looking for alternative premises, may not be a sufficient reason to grant deactivation.

Relationship to the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority process

The Australian Community Pharmacy Authority can only consider recommending approval of an application to relocate a pharmacy that is closed, where the approval has been deactivated.

Making a request to deactivate

A request to deactivate must be made in writing to email pbsapprovedsupplier@health.gov.au clearly articulating the reasons for seeking deactivation. Some examples include:
  • evidence supporting the steps to resolve leasing or legal disputes and potential alternatives for the pharmacist;
  • written advice from the leasing management about renovations to the premises and the need for the pharmacy to vacate for a specific period;
  • written confirmation of an inability to operate the pharmacy due to illness;
  • written evidence that the services of a locum pharmacist could not be obtained to continue the pharmacy business.
The application must also include the period of time for which the applicant is seeking deactivation.

The Department may, at any time:
  • ask for additional information from the approved pharmacist during the deactivation period;
  • vary the deactivation period;
  • notify the approved pharmacist if the Delegate intends cancelling the approval.

Extending the deactivation period

The Delegate will only consider extending the period of deactivation beyond the original period in exceptional circumstances and with supporting documentation.

Change of circumstances

The Delegate uses the reasons outlined in the request when deciding whether or not to grant deactivation and the length of time of the deactivation.

The approved pharmacist must notify the Department in writing if circumstances change at any stage during the deactivation period, and before the end of the deactivation period.

If the Delegate becomes aware of any significant change in the approved pharmacist’s circumstances, they may ask the approved pharmacist to provide reasons in writing as to why the approval should not be cancelled.

Contact us

For any queries please email pbsapprovedsupplier@health.gov.au or phone the PBS Approved Suppliers hotline on (02) 6289 2419.