Issue No. 11 - June/July 2003
Truly National at last
Dispensing medicines is one of the world’s oldest professional occupations and it will surprise no-one that the pharmacy sector here has roots deep in the colonial past. It is interesting, however, that our ‘home grown’ brand, National Pharmacies, is an industry giant fettered by out-of-date legislation.
Claiming to have members in 20% of Adelaide households, National Pharmacies is Australia’s largest retail pharmacy chain (other groups are individually-run businesses with brand affiliations) with 31 pharmacies in South Australia, 12 in Victoria and one in NSW.
National Pharmacies is the trading name of the Friendly Society Medical Association Limited (FSMA), which began trading in 1911 in its current form. Dating from the 1840s, friendly societies were a forerunner of the modern insurance industry, created to pool community resources to provide for members’ health. At that time, the salient issues were the high cost of medicine and quality control for the medicines being dispensed. We see a legacy of that in the Quality Care Pharmacy Program, a national health initiative in which National Pharmacies is very active, gaining total accreditation in 2000 when only 10% of Australian pharmacies had the credential.
Today there are about 120 friendly society pharmacies throughout Australia, National Pharmacies being the largest. But since the middle of last century, National’s growth in its home state has been limited by laws enacted to prevent fore...