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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 11:38 GMT
Head to head: Chemist reform
Supermarkets are now likely to be allowed to dispense NHS prescriptions in a shake-up of pharmacy regulation.

Ahead of the announcement, BBC Radio 4's Today programme asked whether the deregulation of the market would spell the end of small chemists.


David Miles, of Asda

This is about improving the current system in improving the provision of dispensing.

Also it's about giving better value to shoppers and patients. The current mechanism prevents prices from being lowered.

This [deregulation] will actually bring about more pharmacies not fewer and this will bring about better provision of pharmacies and services.

Where appropriate these businesses will thrive.

Customers tell us they want a prescription [dispenser] and to be able to buy medicines.

It is about providing a good service both in terms of medical provision and dispensing prescriptions.

We have seen since the removal of price fixing, pricing has not dropped in the vast majority of the pharmacy trade.

That is because there is no competition for pharmacies to give better value medicines.



Alistair Buxton, of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Commission which represents pharmacies in England and Wales

There is potentially a quite real danger these changes will mark the end of the small chemist.

We welcome competition in the market which is driven by the provision of these services.

But there needs to be a balance between competition and consumer access.

Consumers need to get prescriptions dispensed where they need them, be that from a small chemist or a supermarket.

Currently if you wish to open a pharmacy you apply to the NHS locally and they will determine if there is an adequate service in that locality.

If there is a need for more services you will be granted a contract.

I think we will definitely see more pharmacies.

I think Asda is confusing the matter on prices.

We are talking about the dispensing of NHS prescriptions and there is a fixed charge made by the NHS for those.

If Asda wish to reduce the price of over the counter medicines, there is absolutely nothing to stop them doing that now.


See also:

16 May 01 | Business
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