Greater availability of non-prescription pharmaceuticals, and lower prices at non-pharmacy sales outlets. A study conducted by the Swedish Competition Authority shows that this is what has happened in the case of top-selling non-prescription pharmaceuticals since the pharmacy reform of 2009.
On average, the popular non-prescription pharmaceuticals included in the study are sold in other outlets at a price that is 11 percent lower than in pharmacies. There are, however, major variations both within and between different categories of pharmaceuticals. The greatest difference exists in treatments taken to combat aches and fevers, where the prices are an average of 22 percent lower in outlets that are not pharmacies.
“The fact that the range of non-prescription pharmaceuticals has increased, and that they have become cheaper outside of pharmacies, shows that, at least in this regard, the pharmacy reform has been a success”, says Karin Lunning, the acting Director-General of the Swedish Competition Authority.
As part of the 2009 pharmacy reform, the sale of certain non-prescription pharmaceuticals was permitted outside of pharmacies, and the state’s monopoly of pharmacies was abolished. The reform also enabled the introduction to the market of new, lower-priced brands of non-prescription pharmaceuticals, which has been of benefit to consumers. For those consumers who actively compare prices when they shop, the differences can be considerable.
As an effect of the pharmacy reform, there has been an increased introduction of so-called generics to the market (preparations with a different brand name but with the same active ingredients as the original brand). These preparations are mostly sold by pharmacies. Outside of pharmacies, the original brands remain most common.
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