Pharmacy Financial Interests – Introduction
Financial interests in pharmacies are regulated to protect the public by ensuring pharmacy businesses comply with legislation and uphold standards.
The following information provides an overview of pharmacy financial interest requirements, submission and review of notices and applications, common application errors that lead to delays and how applicants can facilitate timely consideration of applications.
In addition, ‘The Guide’ on the Pharmacy Council of NSW website is a comprehensive resource to assist pharmacists with financial interest notices and applications, including calculating fees payable.
Who can hold a financial interest in a pharmacy in NSW
Only registered pharmacists can hold a financial interest in a pharmacy in NSW, whether as a sole trader, or a partnership of pharmacists, or a pharmacists’ body corporate.
Schedule 5F of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) (National Law (NSW)) requires that a person cannot carry on a pharmacy business in NSW unless the premises has current approval and all the holders of a financial interest in the pharmacy business are registered pharmacists.
Current approval means that the pharmacy premises has been inspected and approved by the Pharmacy Council of NSW (the Council) as suitable for carrying on a pharmacy business by a pharmacist.
You hold a financial interest in a pharmacy business if you are either:
- a sole trader of a pharmacy business
- a partner in a pharmacists’ partnership in a pharmacy business
- a director and / or shareholder in a pharmacists' body corporate
- a trustee or beneficiary of a trust which includes a pharmacy business.
You can hold a financial interest in up to five pharmacies in NSW.
This means that if you hold a financial interest in a pharmacy business in NSW, you must:
For more information refer to Financial Interest (page 5) in The Guide.
Who regulates pharmacy financial interests in NSW
The Pharmacy Council of NSW regulates pharmacy financial interests in NSW. The Council protects the public by ensuring there is no impermissible financial interest and that the pharmacy business operates within the law and upholds standards.
Under the National Law (NSW), the Council maintains the NSW Register of Pharmacies (the register). This register includes details of approved premises and all the registered holders of financial interests in a pharmacy business. The Council reviews and approves applications relating to financial interest in pharmacies in NSW.
The Council undertakes an inspection program to proactively monitor pharmacies. This is to ensure the pharmacy business is fully equipped and meets the required specifications set out in the regulations.
If you want to know about regulation of pharmacy ownership in other states and territories, please contact the relevant regulatory body.
How to inform the Council of changes to the pharmacy business and financial interest
Pharmacy owners and holders of financial interest are responsible for informing the Council of any changes to the pharmacy business and/or their financial interest. You must inform the Council of any changes in writing, either via a notice or application.
Notices and Applications
Notices inform the Council of changes for maintaining the register. Notices must be completed correctly and submitted to Council so that the register is accurate and up to date.
A notice is required for:
- changing the name of a pharmacy
- closing a pharmacy
- disposing of financial interest in a pharmacy by either selling the business, transferring a financial interest, or disposing of a financial interest
- the completion of sale (settlement) or transfer of financial interest in a pharmacy business – the purchaser must complete the notice, in addition to the relevant change in ownership structure application.
Applications must be reviewed and approved by Council to ensure they comply with the National Law (NSW) before the pharmacy can operate under the proposed changes.
An application is required for:
- relocation or expansion / reduction of existing pharmacy premises
- approval of new pharmacy premises
- approval of a professional services room in association with a pharmacy business
- change in ownership structure, including purchase of a pharmacy business
- acquisition of financial interest in an existing pharmacy business or a pharmacists’ body corporate
Using the right form
The required application form will depend on the planned change and the ownership structure of the pharmacy business.
There are four main structures under which registered pharmacists can hold pharmacy financial interests:
- Sole trader – the pharmacy business is owned by one person, in their own name.
- Partnership – the pharmacy business is owned by two or more partners who are registered pharmacists.
- Body corporate – the pharmacy business is owned by a company or body corporate in which all the directors and shareholders are registered pharmacists.
- Trust – the pharmacy business ownership involves a trust – the trustees must be registered pharmacists or a pharmacists’ body corporate, and beneficiaries must be registered pharmacists.
In addition, special provisions provide for Friendly Societies which must have approval from the Minister for Health.
For more information, go to Application Forms and Notices (page 6) in The Guide. If you are unsure of which form to use, please contact us via email at email@example.com.
|I want to...
|Forms you need to complete
|Change the name of my pharmacy
Change the ownership structure of my pharmacy, including:
|Close my pharmacy/cease trading
|Establish a new pharmacy
Application includes registration of the pharmacy premises and financial interests in the new pharmacy business
|Establish a new professional services room to be used in conjunction with an existing pharmacy business
Professional service rooms are premises associated with but separate to an approved pharmacy and are limited to preparation and packaging
Change the ownership structure of an existing pharmacy business, including:
Notice of Completion – must be completed once the sale (settlement) of pharmacy is finalised or transfer of financial interest is completed
Relocate an existing pharmacy business or substantially alter/renovate the existing premises (without changing any aspect of the ownership of the business)
Register new financial interest/s in an existing pharmacy business by:
The Pharmacists’ Body Corporate is the existing owner/financial interest holder in the business
Notice of Completion (This is submitted with an updated ASIC company extract)
What the application fees cover
Financial interest applications require a fee to be paid.
A fee is not payable if you are lodging a notice.
The application fees cover the costs of reviewing the application. Fees are payable at the time of lodgement and an application is not considered complete until the correct fee has been received, as well as all the required documentation. Application fees are exempt from Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Current fees and details can be found here. For more information on how to calculate the fee for your application, refer to Application Fees on page 7 of the Guide.
Fees for approval of pharmacy premises, registration of a financial interest in a pharmacy business and annual renewal of pharmacy premises registration are prescribed in the Health Practitioner Regulation (New South Wales) Regulation 2016.
The fee for an annual declaration of financial interest in a pharmacy business is prescribed in the Health Practitioner Regulation (New South Wales) Amendment (Pharmacy Annual Declaration Fee) Regulation 2021.
Financial interest application fees are separate to the annual registration renewal fees pharmacists pay Ahpra to maintain registration as a practitioner. A portion of the practitioner registration fee is allocated to fund the Council’s management of complaints about the conduct, performance and health of registered pharmacists and pharmacy students in NSW.
What happens when you submit a notice or application
Most notices and applications must be submitted to the Council at least 14 days before the changes are planned to take place. Please refer to the relevant application or notice for the specific timing requirements. Fines and penalties may apply for a late submission.
All notices and applications are assessed in order of receipt and the Council is unable to provide ‘on-the-spot’ approvals.
On receipt of a Notice, acknowledgement of receipt is provided and the Notice is assessed to ensure the required information is provided. You will also be contacted if you need to provide further details.
On receipt of an application, acknowledgement of receipt will be provided and the application is assessed to ensure it is complete and compliant.
After assessment of your application, you will be advised whether your application is complete and compliant or if there are missing documents, issues requiring rectification, or if documentation requires legal review.
Applications will only be considered for approval AFTER they are complete and compliant, including receipt of correct documentation, responses to any requests for additional information or clarification, and payment of the applicable fee.
Consideration of an application may raise questions requiring further information, documentation, or clarification to be provided.
If we do not receive a response to our queries in a timely manner, we will contact you with a due date for any outstanding information and our intention to close your application if the required information is not provided. If you do not respond and your application is closed we will advise you of closure and return the application fee.
The timeframe for consideration of applications requiring extensive legal review will be
determined on a case-by-case basis. If your application requires legal review, we will provide you with an approximate timeframe for the review and inform you of any associated costs.
If an inspection of pharmacy premises is required as part of the review of an application, you will be contacted about a suitable time for the inspection to take place.
If you are unsure about how to complete an application, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. before you submit.
Common reasons for delays in reviewing applications
Some applications may take longer to review due to errors in the application. Common errors include:
- Incomplete form is submitted
- Incorrect form for the pharmacy ownership structure is submitted
- Supporting documents required for the application are not submitted
- Draft or undated documents are submitted
- Applications are not signed where required.
Once the application is submitted, review will take longer if:
- Responses to follow up questions or requests for missing documents are not provided promptly
- Complex applications and commercial documents provided with ownership applications require legal review to ensure that financial interests are only held by registered pharmacists. For example, franchises are complex and often include a combination of ownership types which requires additional time to review; trusts and constitutions may require amendment after legal review requiring further legal review of the amendments when they are submitted.
What you can do to assist review of your application
To help us review your application as quickly as possible, please follow these tips.
Before you submit your application:
- Confirm that you have filled out the correct form for your pharmacy ownership structure
- Ensure the form is complete and correct
- Check it is signed by all parties
- Check that all supporting documents are included in the application – refer to the checklist at the end of the form
- Ensure documents submitted are final (not draft) and dated
- If you have a complex ownership structure, please include a diagram of the ownership structure
- If in doubt, please get in touch with the Pharmacy Council team BEFORE you submit your application
- Please ensure the contact listed on the form is the best person to liaise with the Council team if further information or clarification is needed.
After the application is submitted:
- Respond quickly and fully to requests for additional information, documentation or clarification.
If you have any queries, please contact us via email at email@example.com.
For more information about supporting documents, see Guide Note 3: Documentation requirements, Guide Note 15: Signatures