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February 28, 2005 | by  | in News |
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Students Lament Lack of Drugs on Campus

Vic students returned from their summer holidays to discover that the Campus Pharmacy had closed down in their absence.

Owner Richard Perham says that the closure of Campus Pharmacy, which had been in the building since 1992, was purely due to “market forces”. It was a decision that was “not taken lightly,” he added.

Beneath the smiles of the award-winning staff, the pharmacy has had a troubled history. Its future has been in doubt since the Student Union agreed to subsidise the pharmacy to keep it open two years ago. However, according to Student Union General Manager Rainsforth Dix, after two years rent-free it was still unprofitable, and the stress got to be too much for the owners.
Although he said that the Student Union was a “bit autocratic” as a landlord, Perham laid most of the blame on the Government’s recent changes to funding for prescriptions.

Reaction from the students’ association has been scathing. VUWSA President Jeremy Greenbrook said that the decision showed that “the Student Union doesn’t necessarily have the interests of students at heart”. VUWSA has little say in the matter, however, as the Student Union Building is controlled by the Student Union – a part of the University’s Facilities Management.

Dix cites a student survey carried out last year showing that the pharmacy was only used by a quarter of the student population, and arguing that the money spent on propping up the pharmacy was “disadvantaging a high number of students” on other campuses. The space vacated by the pharmacy is now a boardroom that can be rented out to organisations.

Director of Student Health Dr Thaw Naing said that although Student Health “fully supports” having a pharmacy on campus for the sake of convenience for students, the decision was “beyond our control”.

Finding a replacement for the pharmacy is problematic. Neither the University nor VUWSA would legally be able to run one without a qualified chemist owning 51% of the operation. Despite the University putting the pharmacy up for tender over a year ago, no other pharmacy has stepped up to take over.

The closure seems to be part of a trend nation wide. Only the University of Auckland still has a pharmacy on campus. Several years ago the pharmacy at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus closed down under similar circumstances.

Meanwhile, Vic students will be forced to walk to Willis St or Upland Rd to get their prescriptions filled. VUWSA is holding a meeting to discuss the issue at noon today in the boardroom where the pharmacy used to be.

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About the Author ()

Nicola Kean: feature writer, philanthropist, womanly woman. Nicola is the smallest member of the Salient team, but eats really large pieces of lasagne. Favourites include 80s music, the scent of fresh pine needles and long walks on the beach.

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