PHARMACIES could be about to lose their monopoly on dispensing drugs and prescriptions as the competition watchdog Autorité de la Concurrence is looking at whether it should be opened up to supermarkets and others – while still being overseen by a pharmacist.
The agency said opening up medicine sales could lead to prices being cut by around 25% and said previous moves to encourage competition among pharmacies had not led to the promised savings.
It has published its findings and opened them for public comment until September 16 with its final proposals expected “by the end of the year”.
Already it has found that “certain practices by pharmaceutical companies were slowing down a reduction in price of medicines” such as decrying the usage of generic substitutes – which could be up to 60% cheaper than the “princeps” original product – and even paying generic manufacturers to delay their introduction.
It said there was a wide disparity in pricing of over-the-counter drugs – with products being up to four times more expensive in some chemists than others.
From tomorrow online medicine sales will be opened to more non-prescription drugs, with 4,000 drugs available rather than the previous 450. They will only be available from online pharmacists, which are part of a “real pharmacy”.