Retailers complain of violation of pharmacy law by webshop

Apotekeren.dk sells medicinal and non-medicinal products side-by-side on webshop

New rules restrict the sale of non-medicinal products in pharmacies (photo: iStock) New rules restrict the sale of non-medicinal products in pharmacies (photo: iStock)
January 29th, 2016 11:39 am| by Philip Tees
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The business confederation Dansk Erhverv has reported the online pharmacy Apotekeren.dk to the medicines agency Lægemiddelstyrelsen for selling goods prohibited by the recently implemented new pharmacy law, Politiken reports.

The law, which came into force at the beginning of the month, ensures the continuation of the pharmacies’ monopoly on selling medication, but imposes restrictions on the sale of other so-called freely-traded goods, such as sweets, books and cosmetics.

However, Apotekeren.dk continues to sell such products.

READ MORE: No break in sight for pharmaceutical monopoly

Dansk Erhverv: clear violation
Christian Sestoft, the head of the corporate secretariat at the employers’ organisation Dansk Erhverv, told Politiken that these products should be removed from the webshop’s product catalogue.

“We believe there is a very clear violation of the provisions in the new pharmacy law that came into force on January 1,” he said.

“Because the law says quite clearly that pharmacies may not sell goods other than pharmaceuticals and the products that belong to that category. What we are seeing here is a continued mass sale of freely tradeable goods, even though the rules of course also apply to the internet.”

Loophole for webshops?
Sestoft explained that the sale of the prohibited articles allowed pharmacies to exploit an unfair competitive advantage.

“It is our impression that the freely-traded goods have constituted a growing share of the pharmacies’ turnover in recent years. But the problem is that they are being sold in unequal competition with local shops,” he said.

“Precisely because pharmacies have a monopoly on the sale of medication, they are guaranteed very high customer traffic in their shops. Pharmacies process in the region of 60 million prescription sales a year, and if the many prescription customers are lured to buy other goods as well, then that impacts on all of the shops that have to constantly fight for customer favour without any guaranteed customer flow.”

Although Apotekeren.dk sells medication and freely-traded goods side-by-side on its webshop, it states that the two categories of goods are sold from two separate companies. Lægemiddelstyrelsen will have to decide whether this model violates the law on pharmacies or not.