Since July 1, 2009, private pharmacies are allowed in Sweden. The re-regulation of the Swedish pharmacy market is expected to lead to more pharmacies and more generous opening hours.
Sweden was one of the last countries in the world with a state-owned monopoly on the pharmacy market. The re-regulation is expected to lead to more community pharmacies, better service and more generous opening hours for the costumers. Another expected result is price pressure resulting in lower prices on pharmaceuticals.
Re-regulation in four steps
The full re-regulation procedure has consisted of four steps.
- Nicotine replacement products were allowed to be sold outside pharmacies (March 2008).
- Altered pharmaceutical provisions to hospitals (September 2008).
- Private community pharmacies were allowed on the Swedish market (July 2009).
- Specific over-the-counter medicinal products were allowed to be sold outside pharmacies (November 2009).
Both state-owned and private pharmacies
About 450 of the 960 pharmacies formerly run by the state-owned company Apoteket AB have been sold in clusters or between 10 and 199 pharmacies to four large private companies. An additional 150 pharmacies are in the process to be sold to small business owners.
The sale of the pharmacies has been handled by Apotekens Omstrukturering AB (OAB).
The new legislation also allows private companies to establish new pharmacies. For each pharmacy a permit from the Medical Products Agency is required. The permit guarantees compliance with the requirements regulating ownership, pharmaceutical competence, premises, staffing etc.
Permits and supervision by the Medical Products Agency
The Medical Products Agency is responsible for reviewing applications and for issuing a permit for each community pharmacy. The Medical Products Agency also maintains the supervision over all pharmacies in Sweden.
The new law on sales of medicinal products (SFS 2009:366) gives anyone the right to own a pharmacy with exception for producers of medicinal products, Market Authorisation Holders (MAH), and prescribers of medicinal products (doctors, dentists, veterinarians).
Apoteket Omstrukturering AB (OAB) – the restructuring company of Apoteket AB
Apoteket Omstrukturering AB is the state-owned parent company in charge of the restructuring of Apoteket AB. Being responsible for planning, preparation and implementation of the process of selling pharmacies with the scope to ensure that the process is carried out in a competitively neutral, transparent and independent manner the company is also responsible for creating necessary conditions for effective competition in a re-regulated pharmacy market..
Apotekens Service AB – service provider for pharmacies
Apotekens Service AB is responsible of the infrastructure and service systems that used to be administered by Apoteket AB. The systems concerned are e.g. the pharmaceutical registry, the prescription registry and the annual health care fee limit data base. The systems have been transferred to this state-owned company in order to make them available to private as well as state-owned pharmacies.
Apotekens Service AB is also responsible for the review and authorisation of the IT-systems used by the pharmacies for expedition of prescriptions.