ACCC greenlights pharmaceutical collaboration during COVID-19

By Tony Zhang|20 April 2020
Ayman Guirguis

K&L Gates has advised several pharmaceutical wholesalers on a successful application for a new collaboration aimed at enabling greater medicinal supply during the pandemic.

Firms: K&L Gates (syndicate - pharmaceutical wholesalers) 

Deal:  Global law firm K&L Gates has advised Australia’s major pharmaceutical wholesalers API, Sigma, Symbion and National Pharmacies and their representative body, the National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA), on an urgent interim authorisation application to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

The granting of the authorisation enables greater collaboration and assists in maximising efficiencies in the wholesalers’ supply chains as they provide medicines and pharmacy products to consumers, pharmacies and hospitals.


Value: Undisclosed.

Area: Competition and regulation.

Key players: The K&L Gates team was led by Sydney policy and regulatory partner Ayman Guirguis, with lawyer Mei Gong assisting.

Deal significance: The wholesalers of medicines will be able to co-operate to facilitate distribution of essential medication and pharmacy products after being granted interim authorisation by the ACCC.

Mr Guirguis said: We are proud to assist our clients to collaborate to make their supply chains as efficient as possible at this vital time as they source and deliver medicines and pharmacy products. 


Where there is a commercial imperative to collaborate in this time of crisis, parties can engage with the ACCC to arrive at a quick and effective outcome – where the collaboration will assist the public.

This follows an application by the National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA) to enable businesses to co-ordinate the supply, inventory management, distribution, logistics, and import of pharmaceuticals needed by consumers and hospitals.

“Allowing pharmacy wholesalers to work together to help make vital medicines accessible to everyone during this pandemic is clearly in the national interest, ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“I also urge consumers not to buy more medicines than they require, in order to ease supply restrictions for other patients and enable fair distribution to all Australians.”

Recognising the significant public benefits of the industry collaboration, the ACCC granted interim authorisation within 48 hours of the wholesalers’ application, the eighth urgent application for interim authorisation the ACCC has processed, where commercial coordination was necessitated by COVID-19 challenges.

ACCC greenlights pharmaceutical collaboration during COVID-19
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