Will Australia’s pharmacy regulations review open doors for Walgreens Boots Alliance?

Walgreens Boots Alliance’s plans to establish a chain of Boots-brand pharmacies in Australia have been thwarted by pharmacy ownership regulations thus far, according to a report published by The Sydney Morning Herald, but a review due to report in March 2017 could allow the company to realize its ambition some 100 years after its first attempt to enter the market.

Under Australian law, pharmacies must be owned by pharmacists and, therefore, cannot be owned by corporations. The government has commissioned an independent review of pharmacy regulations, due to report in March 2017.

“Australians are such great travellers … that brand recognition for Boots is incredibly high here in Australia and it feels a terrible shame to waste the recognition,” said Ken Murphy, Global Brands President, in an interview with Fairfax Media. “But there’s almost as much effort that goes into creating a franchise model as an owner model, the returns on investment are a lot tougher, to justify the investment in Australia we’d have to have the capability to establish our own chain. We’d be happy to do that but we’d have to have the legal permission to do so.”

In the meantime, Murphy is said to be looking at ‘every option’ including a partnership with wholesalers or establishing a franchise. Boots own-brand products are currently stocked via a number of retailers throughout the country.

Walgreen Boots Alliance is also said to be considering the acquisition or distribution Australian brands looking to penetrate the US and UK markets.