Clicks Face Complaints Over Alleged Uncompetitive Practices
The Competition Commission has been approached by the Independent Community Pharmacy Association in regards to leveling the playing field as they allege that the Clicks Group have counter competitive practices.
The ICPA is a registered non-profit company that represents a good number of pharmacies in SA that are independently owned. About half of these members are in rural areas.
The ICPA try and identify practices that restrict and prevent competition in the SA pharmacy sector so that they are able to prevent private healthcare cost increases and expenditure. They say that the sector is full of uncompetitive practices.
One problem that the ICPA has is the ownership by retail pharmacies of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies the benefits that are derived from this integration.
The Pharmacy Act forbids manufactures of medicines to have indirect or direct beneficial interest in a retail pharmacy.
The ICPA are now objecting the Click’s ownership of Unicorn Pharmaceuticals, which is considered to be a manufacturer and does business as such.
In terms of the Pharmacy Act, Unicorn is authorized to own a manufacturing pharmacy and is allowed to conduct business of a manufacturing pharmacy in its plant in Woodstock, Cape Town only.
According to the ICPA, a subsidiary of Clicks Group is Unicorn Pharmaceuticals. The Clicks Group is the company that holds Clicks Retailers that has registered pharmacy licenses.
The ICPA say that it is almost impossible for a pharmacist to now become and entrepreneur in the independent community pharmacy sector. This is due to the cost of entry being to high and the profits do not exist.
They go to say that pharmacists that are healthcare entrepreneurs will no longer exist and instead they will just become an employee of corporate enterprises that are driven by profit.
The CEO of Clicks Group, David Kneale said that the ICPA are always making allegations that the Clicks Retailers are using anti-competitive practices. He also said that Clicks Retailers have always rejected these allegations.
He went on to say that Clicks is listed as a JSE company. The reputation of Clicks is important; they conduct themselves with the highest standards and obey the law. He also said that the intention of introducing pharmacies into the stores is to offer customers a range of medicine that is affordable and convenient locations.
Clicks Retailers have also never applied for a manufacturing pharmacy license. The license that is held by Unicorn Pharmaceuticals allows them to import and export medicine and to also practice distribution activities.
The ICPA are also objecting to the way that shopping malls favor large companies like Clicks and call this unfair practices.
The validity of ICPA claims will now be decided by the Competition Commission.