Press Release

Government approves draft Heads and General Scheme of Pharmacy Bill

At a Cabinet meeting this week the Government approved the draft Heads and General Scheme of a Pharmacy Bill which will increase competition and raise standards in the pharmacy sector. The Heads and General Scheme will now be forwarded to the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office for urgent formal drafting.

The legislation will take the form of a Bill comprising the following:

  • A proposal to remove the ‘derogation’ on non-Irish graduates owning, operating or supervising pharmacies which are less than 3 years old. This measure will increase the number of pharmacists available to run new pharmacy businesses and increase competition in the sector.
  • Fitness to practice regulations for pharmacists. These regulations will strengthen the powers of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland in maintaining the highest standards in the delivery of pharmacy services.
  • A registration regime for the pharmacies. This proposal will enhance the powers available to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland to deal with the maintenance of standards within the sector as a whole, and not just on an individual basis. Whereas Fitness to Practice for pharmacists deals with the individual competence, on professional or on health grounds, of a pharmacist, the registration of pharmacies proposals will deal with qualitative and procedural matters surrounding the operation of a pharmacy business in a safe manner.
  • The modernisation of the general governance of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. Among the changes is the introduction of a majority of lay members onto the Society’s governing Council.
  • The updating of the registration scheme for pharmacists trained within and outside the State.

The Tánaiste said : “This first Pharmacy Bill will introduce measures which will increase competition and benefit consumers by making it easier to open new pharmacies while also improving the regulatory regime for the protection of the public in their dealings with the pharmacy sector both on an individual and corporate basis. These changes have long been sought by the profession and I am pleased to be bringing their suggestions to fruit at this time.

The new schemes dealing with the fitness to practice and registration of pharmacies were recommended by the Pharmacy Review Group and will enhance the powers available to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and greatly aid them in their mission to ensure quality service delivery and public safety considerations are to the forefront.”

In particular, I am delighted that I will be removing a restriction, the ’derogation’, which was unfair in its treatment of many Irish pharmacists who were, due to the restricted number of places available, forced to train abroad. This proposal will also help the increasing numbers of overseas born pharmacists who wish to start businesses here and who different and varied experiences will enhance the sector – keeping it fresh and competitive.”