The Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA) has laid a complaint against Clicks with the Competition Commission claiming uncompetitive behaviour. Clicks has come out denying such behaviour and defending its role in the medical and pharmaceutical arenas.
In a statement, David Kneale, chief executive officer of Clicks Group Limited, stated: “Clicks Retailers has consistently rejected all of these allegations as spurious. Clicks is a listed JSE company, our reputation is important to us, we obey the law and we observe the highest standards of professional conduct. Our intention is, and has been since we first introduced pharmacies into our stores, to offer our customers a wide range of affordable medicines in convenient locations served to them by dedicated professionals.”
According to reports, ICPA have claimed that Clicks is in contravention of the Pharmacy Act. Clicks Group owns both Clicks Retailers and Unicorn Pharmaceuticals, which ICPA is stating constitutes a pharmaceutical manufacturer having a direct link with a retail pharmacy.
The Chairman of ICPA, Mogologolo Phasha told Justmoney: “This issue was presented at the Competitions Commission Health Market Enquiry and talked to at the Public Hearing, so no formal complaint has been lodged. ICPA would like the Competitions Commission to pronounce as one of their finding that the vertical integration practices of Clicks distorts or prevents competition in the marketplace.”
The Pharmacy act prohibits manufacturers from having an indirect or direct link with a retail in this sector. However, Clicks have defended its business operations stating that Unicorn Pharmaceuticals does not manufacture medicines. According to Clicks, the licence held by Unicorn Pharmaceuticals does not permit it to manufacture drugs (medications).
“Clicks Retailers, which owns and operates the Clicks pharmacies, has never applied for a manufacturing pharmacy licence. The manufacturing pharmacy licence that is held by Unicorn Pharmaceuticals, permits them to import or export medicine and conduct distribution activities,” said Kneale.
‘Clicks is not breaking the law’
Kneale noted: “Clicks stock a wide range of products, both branded and generic. Our aim is to provide quality products with proven efficacy, great value and customer choice. Our pharmacists are regularly trained across a range of products and manufacturers so as to ensure our pharmacists are able to provide our patients with appropriate and affordable products. Clicks always works with our patients’, healthcare professionals’ and funders’ requirements, and as responsible pharmacists we do not push any products.”
According to Kneale, ‘Clicks is not breaking the law in terms of vertical integration” as this is not prohibited by the Competition Act. Furthermore, Kneale highlighted that the price of medications is regulated by the National Department of Health, which in effect eliminates any competition law concerns.