Changing your pharmacy name? You need regulatory approval.

Changing the name of your pharmacy can be an exciting time. It might mean a new brand, colours and signage. One task which is often overlooked in the change of name process is the need for regulatory approval.

It is a legislative requirement of most Australian States for the State regulator to be notified of the change of name of a pharmacy business and for the new name to be approved by the regulator. 

In Queensland, the regulator is Queensland Health. Under the Pharmacy Business Ownership Act 2001 (Qld), a person who owns a pharmacy business must give notice of the change of ownership particulars (which includes the name of the pharmacy business) within 21 days after the date of the change. Notification is made by submitting the prescribed form together with the required supporting documentation to Queensland Health. Failure to notify Queensland Health carries a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units. At the time of writing, 50 penalty units equals $6,672.50. That amount is likely to increase on 1 July 2020.

The State regulator is likely to check if the new pharmacy name is registered with ASIC and if so, that the owner of the name is the same as the owner of the pharmacy. If there are any inconsistencies, further information may need to be provided to explain the inconsistency.

In addition to notifying the State regulator, the pharmacy owner must also notify the Australian Department of Health of the change of name of the pharmacy business. The notification must be made using the prescribed form and evidence of notification to (or approval from) the State regulator must also be submitted. The application must be lodged via the Health Data Portal. 

Once the Australian Department of Health has approved the change of name for the pharmacy business, the Department will issue an amended PBS approval certificate by email. The amended certificate will show the new name of the pharmacy business. The PBS approval number will not change.

Failure to notify the relevant regulators of the change of name of the pharmacy business may not only lead to a financial penalty under the relevant legislation but may also cause delays or confusion when the time comes to sell the pharmacy business to a third party. 

Business owners are also encouraged to ensure they comply with the requirements of the business name legislation that applies in their State. If you are not sure what legislation applies to you or how to register your business name, please seek independent legal advice.

If you have any queries regarding applications for a change of name of your pharmacy business or require assistance with an application, please contact Sarah Stoddart on 0421 798 339 or 

This article is intended to be for general information only. It does not constitute legal advice nor does it establish a relationship of client and lawyer. 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 dealt with in this article.