Bold steps required to change pharmacy regulation

According to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, the proposed changes to the pharmacy sector are a step in the right direction, but do not create intensive competition.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health issued two Government proposals in 2018 to reform the pharmacy sector, based on the Government’s guidelines. In its statement on 18 October 2018, the FCCA is in favour of, for example, a plan to set a maximum price for certain over-the-counter medicines, in order that pharmacies could engage in price competition. Consumers would benefit if prices of over-the-counter medicines decrease and pharmacies start to compete with prices.

The FCCA hopes that the proposed changes will promptly reach the Parliament process and that previously presented proposals on making it easier to set up a pharmacy would be processed quickly in the appropriate committees. Government proposals concerning pharmacies that have been issued during previous governments have lapsed in Parliament.

Although the proposals made by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health are a step towards a more competitive system, they are nevertheless insufficient to open up the market for medicine dispensing. An overall regulatory reform requires a thorough impact assessment, but the fact that the sector has specific characteristics is not reason enough not to make use of competition between companies in as much as it can benefits consumers and the national economy. The FCCA presents some of its views on reforming the pharmacy business in it’s blog.

The FCCA’s key proposals to change the pharmacy sector

  • The legislation should be changed so that licences for pharmacies would be granted to all applicants that meet the legal requirements, and the number and location of pharmacies should not be restricted.
  • In addition to removing barriers to entry into the sector, any regulations that impede trade should also be done away with.
  • The regulated consumer prices of medicines at pharmacies should be changed into a maximum price, enabling pharmacies to engage in price competition. Price competition should in the first stage be applied to OTC medicines as proposed by the Ministry.

Further information:

More information:

  • Senior Research Officer Sari Valliluoto, tel. 029 505 3319