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Over Half of Europe's Pharmacies are Grouped into Wholly Owned or Affiliated to Chains - Says New Report

The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have reregulated pharmacy ownership in the last few years. This has led to a growth of wholly owned chains in these countries.

In 2009, Sweden diluted its State retail pharmacy monopoly by selling off 450 of its 960 Apoteket pharmacies and relaxing the law with regard to pharmacy ownership and the opening of new pharmacies. This has led to pharmacy chains taking over 56.6% of Sweden's non-State-owned pharmacies.

More recently, the Slovakian Medicines Law was amended to permit companies to run pharmacies.

Along with these more recently deregulated territories, retail pharmacy chains are permitted in Belgium, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

In Poland, the law restricts the number of pharmacies that one owner can have to 1% of total pharmacies in a province ('voivodeship'). This is based on Article 99, paragraph 3 of the Act - Pharmaceutical Law passed into Law in 2004. Few chains comply with the rule. However, the authorities are beginning to crack down on the practice with some chains being refused new licenses in some provinces since the beginning of the year.

Having reregulated pharmacy ownership in 2006, Hungary has re-imposed restrictions to prevent new chains being formed by third parties and to progressively restore pharmacists as the majority shareholders of their stores by 2017.

Retail Pharmacy in Europe - Growth of Groupings of Affiliated Independent Pharmacies or Virtual Chains

Over the last decade there has been a phenomenal growth in affiliate groupings of independent pharmacies or so called 'virtual' chains. While these have existed in France and the UK for many years, the pace of growth has been greater in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. Virtual chains have formed to provide independent pharmacists with levels of procurement, pharmacy management systems and customer loyalty packages. This gives independents a competitive edge and efficiency economies to compete as a chain, while remaining independent.

The three international wholesalers Alliance Healthcare (WBA), Celesio (McKesson) and Phoenix are the main drivers behind this form of retail grouping. The three companies between them control a third of independent pharmacies affiliated to groups and 17% of pharmacies overall in the 20 countries in the Dudley study.

It is fully expected that virtual chains will expand across the whole continent by the end of the decade. Already, in the twenty countries under study there is an estimated membership of 53,900 affiliated independent pharmacies. This is equivalent to over a third of pharmacies in the study.

Along with the major European-wide operators, local players such as Pharma Privat in Germany, Galenica in Switzerland and Hungaropharma in Hungary have built large affiliate memberships for their virtual chains in their domestic markets.

% of Pharmacies in Virtual Retail Pharmacy Chains - Europe 20 Country Study 2015


% of Pharmacies in Virtual ChainsDenmark









36.0Average 20 European countries










Source: James Dudley Management OTC Distribution in Europe - the 2016 edition


Press release distributed by PRLog


SOURCE James Dudley Management
Copyright©2015 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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