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Latest Progress Update - from Pharmacy Today

The number of pharmacists joining forces against two DHBs has grown to 80, says Clive Cannons, who heads the New Zealand Independent Community Pharmacy Group.

The group decided to seek a judicial review of decisions made by the Hutt Valley and Tairāwhiti DHBs after the Hutt Valley DHB in early 2021 granted Countdown a contract to open an in-store pharmacy in Wainuiomata. 

As a Countdown pharmacy, it would absorb the prescription copayment.

The Hutt Valley DHB panel that considered the initial application first voted 4:1 to decline it as it did not meet all the criteria in the DHB’s contract­ing policy. However, the final decision was to approve the application, citing that the free scripts provided by the Countdown pharmacy would improve equity of access to medicines for the local Māori and Pacific populations.

The Tairāwhiti DHB later made a simi­lar decision with a Countdown pharmacy, resulting in local pharmacy owners calling for a transparent policy to be introduced.

A court date has now been set for mid-November.

Mr Cannons says grounds for the group’s legal action include that the DHBs did not follow the proper processes when granting pharmacy licences.

Mr Cannons is expecting the number of members in the group to grow further as concerned pharmacists ring him “daily” about the issue.

All members contribute $1000 to legal costs and, apart from Mr Cannons, remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the DHBs.

Although the DHBs will no longer exist after 30 June, Mr Cannons says his legal team of four has advised the legal action will be directly transferred to the new entity, Health New Zealand