A recent decision of the Federal Court of Australia is likely to significantly impact on applications made under Rule 136 of the Pharmacy Location Rules (large medical centre).

It is a requirement of Rule 136 that a large medical centre operate for at least 70 hours each week. Historically, the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority (“Authority”) has taken a position that if a public holiday falls within the rosters period for the application, and the medical centre does not open on the public holiday, the hours for the week with the public holiday may be less than 70 hours.

In its decision of 11 February 2020, the Court determined that a medical centre which opened 70.5 hours per week, but closed over both an Easter period and Christmas period, did not satisfy the requirements of Rule 136.

The Court decided that the requirement for the medical centre to open 70 hours per week must be strictly interpreted and is not flexible. In making its decision, the Court held that:

the purpose of creating a category for approvals related to large medical centres is to meet the demand for dispensing of PBS medicines that such centres generate. That purpose would be undermined if the “at least 70 hours each week” criterion is not strictly interpreted.”

The parties have been allowed a period of time to make submissions on how to deal with the situation given that based on the Court’s decision, the approval should not have been granted.

For further information or assistance with applications under the Pharmacy Location Rules, please contact us on (07) 3370 0200 or sarahstoddart@stoddartlegal.com.au

This article is intended to be for general information only.  It does not constitute legal advice nor does it establish a relationship of lawyer and client.  Specific circumstances or changes in law may vary the accuracy or applicability of the information published.  We recommend seeking specific legal advice particular to your circumstances before taking any action, or refraining from taking any action, on any issue addressed in this article.