Former Apoteket boss sets up rival

Competition is the best medicine for Apoteket, Sweden's state-run pharmacy. So says its former chief Arne Björnberg who has a new remedy to rival the monopoly.

The former managing director of Apoteket is challenging the state-run pharmacy’s monopoly. From April he will start supplying prescription drugs to Swedish patients through his familiar-sounding company, Poteket.

It is legal for Swedes to get prescriptions dispensed anywhere within the EU. Björnberg’s set-up acts as an intermediary between patients here and a pharmacy in Estonia.

The patient or doctor will send the prescription over the Baltic Sea and the medicines will be posted back – all at a fraction of Apoteket’s home delivery service. Today it costs up to 125 crowns to get your medicine delivered to your door. And for pensioners, even the home help charges for picking up your pills here.

Björnberg told Friday’s DN “We will be able to deliver prescription drugs to the home, for the price of the stamp, between 12 and 15 crowns.” He sees his prime customers as the elderly and those who have difficulty getting out and about.

Poteket will not deliver narcotics, emergency medicine or drugs with special storage requirements. The deal is for patients on long-term medication to subscribe to their standard prescription drugs.

Although Apoteket has a monopoly on selling prescription drugs for private consumption, hospitals and health centres are excluded from Sweden’s pharmaceutical controls.

Free to buy medicines from a supplier of their choice, Björnberg is already planning to claim Apoteket’s share of that market too. “We are in talks with five different county councils and within weeks we will start offering such a service,” he says.

Björnberg insists this is not a revenge attempt on his former employers. “We simply believe that this is a way to make money and provide a better service,” he says. “Apoteket should not feel threatened.”

They don’t. DN asked current Apoteket boss Stefan Carlsson whether he was worried about his predecessor’s competition plans. “No, not one bit,” he replied.