Dáil Éireann - Volume 552 - 24 April, 2002

Written Answers. - Pharmacy Sector Deregulation.

  58. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will make a statement on pharmacy deregulation and the way in which this is being implemented. [12590/02]

[1220]   Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The retail pharmacy sector has not been deregulated. It is subject to a wide range of legislative controls. The opening of new pharmacies continues to be governed by the Pharmacy Acts, subject to restrictions imposed by non-pharmacy legislation such as the Planning Act. The 1996 regulations, which I revoked in January this year following advice from the Office of the Attorney General, set out the criteria and procedures for granting community pharmacy contracts with the health boards.

  The effect of the revocation for the awarding of new community pharmacy contracts is that there are no restrictions on granting new community pharmacy contracts in terms of location, population or viability of existing pharmacies. The revocation does not affect the operation of the community pharmacy scheme, and existing contracts still stand. All existing contract applications and appeals lapsed with the regulations. Those affected should contact the relevant health board directly concerning re-applying.

  The Pharmacy Review Group was established to examine the pharmacy issues raised in the OECD report on regulatory reform in Ireland. It is now being asked to report as quickly as possible, given the new situation. The type of framework, whether statutory or otherwise, required for community pharmacy services will be considered when the group reports. It is my intention to introduce community pharmacy regulations to cover, on an interim basis, the period from now until the publication of the Pharmacy Review Group's report.