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Pharmacists to be exempt from piercing licence

Last updated 20:53 28/07/2014

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Auckland pharmacists would no longer have to hold a licence to pierce customers’ ears if a proposed amendment to the council’s health bylaw is approved. 

At the moment the bylaw requires any commercial service that pierces the skin, or risks piercing, breaking or burning the skin, to hold a health protection licence. 

The licence involves paying an annual fee of up to $360, plus yearly inspections. 

The Pharmacy Guild had opposed pharmacies having to get a licence since the council first proposed it last year. 

Auckland Council said new information from the industry showed pharmacists adequately ensured public health and hygiene through existing industry-based regulation and further regulation by council was unnecessary. 

Exempting pharmacists from obtaining a licence would also help the council save on compliance costs, it said. 

Under the current bylaw pharmacists were required to hold a licence because commercial services that pierced the skin or risked drawing blood could be considered a high risk due to the hazards posed by contact with blood and body fluids. 

The risks included transmitting blood-borne viral diseases and the transference of communicable diseases including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. 

There was also a risk of the transference of fungal and bacterial infection, the council said. 

There were currently no national regulations for the skin piercing industry, but there were guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, Auckland council said. 

The council proposed pharmacists be exempt from obtaining a licence but suggested they still comply with a code of practice. 

The code of practice restricted those younger than 16 having their ears pierced without written permission from their parent or guardian. 

Auckland Council Environmental Health Officers, public health experts from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service and the Pharmacy Council supported exempting pharmacists from the bylaw as it is perceived there is sufficient regulation to ensure pharmacists undertaking ear-piercing are doing so in a safe and hygienic manner, council said. The amendment is likely to be finalised on Thursday.

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