The Australian Competition Authority authorises medicine wholesalers to cooperate and to facilitate distribution of essential medication and pharmacy products during COVID-19 crisis

Medicine wholesalers to co-operate on access to pharmaceutical products*

Wholesalers of medicines will be able to co-operate to facilitate distribution of essential medication and pharmacy products after being granted interim authorisation by the ACCC.

This follows an application by the National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA) to enable businesses to co-ordinate the supply, inventory management, distribution, logistics, and import of pharmaceuticals needed by consumers and hospitals.

“Allowing pharmacy wholesalers to work together to help make vital medicines accessible to everyone during this pandemic is clearly in the national interest,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“I also urge consumers not to buy more medicines than they require, in order to ease supply restrictions for other patients and enable fair distribution to all Australians.”

The co-ordination by pharmaceutical wholesalers will be subject to oversight from government and other regulatory bodies. Price fixing behaviour is not authorised, and the ACCC can review the authorisation at any time.

“We have approved this interim authorisation as a matter of urgency given the challenges to the health and medical system from this unprecedented pandemic,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC will now seek feedback on the interim authorisation, as well as the application for final authorisation which is sought for a period of 12 months. More information, including the ACCC’s statement of reasons, is available at National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA).

Background

ACCC authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment. The ACCC may review a decision on interim authorisation at any time, including in response to feedback raised following interim authorisation.

The NPSA is a peak industry body representing pharmaceutical wholesalers in Australia. NPSA Members distribute to all pharmacies and major hospitals in Australia.

*This is the original title of the press release. The title above has been amended in order to match the e-Competitions format. Individual authors are welcome to provide original independent commentaries on the case law. Articles are subject to approval by the Board of e-Competitions Bulletin before publication based on the Editorial Policy (click here).

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Australian Competition Authority, The Australian Competition Authority authorises medicine wholesalers to cooperate and to facilitate distribution of essential medication and pharmacy products during COVID-19 crisis, 31 March 2020, e-Competitions March 2020, Art. N° 94565

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