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Written Answers. - Deregulation of Pharmacies.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 82. Mr. Gormley Information on John Gormley Zoom on John Gormley  asked the Tánaiste Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney  and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason she sought to deregulate pharmacies while discussions were taking place with representatives from pharmacies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10446/02]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney): Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney While overall responsibility for the pharmacy sector rests with the Minister for Health and Children, my interest as Minister with responsibility for competition, is to seek to ensure as far as possible that regulatory reform takes due account of the interests of consumers and the importance of competition in our economy.

Since my attention was drawn to restrictions on entry to the retail pharmacy profession a number of years ago, I have advocated the lifting of [811] restrictions on entry to the profession particularly those related to population and distance criteria as set out in the now revoked* Health (Community Pharmacy Contractor Agreement) Regulations, 1996. I also met the Irish Pharmaceutical Union at its request where I explained my opposition to the maintenance of artificial restrictions on entry to the profession.

Since I became aware of the restrictions, the OECD has also commented adversely in regard to competition in the retail pharmacy area and the Minister for Health and Children set up a review of the regulations governing pharmacy. The position, therefore, is that I have been advocating deregulation since before the OECD report and also prior to the Minister for Health and Children setting up a review of the regulations governing pharmacy.

*The regulations were revoked by the Minister for Health and Children following advice from the Attorney General.


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