Dispensing disruption: Are pharmacies ready for digital rivals?
By Nassim Khadem, Patrick Hatch
- Updated Jul 6 2018 at 6:24 PM
Chemist Warehouse flexes muscles as independent pharmacists battle corporates
Vo still believes there is a place for smaller independently owned pharmacies which, he says, are more focused on the patient and providing health advice, rather than the till.
"We are not just a cashier," he says. "We have a concern for the customer. People feel like we are family and they talk to us and we have more time for them."
Changes in the highly protected pharmacy industry over the past 20 years have been dramatic, Vo says.
"Apart for the squeeze on government funding, we have been caught off guard with the Chemist Warehouse model. We were always more worried about Woolies coming in, but it's Chemist Warehouse that changed things."
This week Chemist Warehouse – the gorilla of Australia's fragmented retail pharmacy sector – flexed its muscles when it dropped wholesaler Sigma Healthcare and handed a $1 billion-a-year contract to rival wholesaler EBOS Group. The pair have had a difficult relationship, with Sigma taking Chemist Warehouse to court last year over breach of contract, which was later settled.
The change in contract has left Sigma relying heavily on its independent pharmacy network which is under pressure from encroaching corporates, including the nation's largest private hospitals operator, Ramsay Health Care.