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PHARMACY

Ica and Apoteket discuss in-store pharmacies

Swedish state-owned pharmacy chain Apoteket has confirmed that it plans to cooperate with supermarket chain Ica over the in-store sale of non-prescription and prescription drugs.

“We see great possibilities with a future cooperation where we can also offer qualified advice within medications and health at more outlets with longer opening hours,” Apoteket’s CEO Stefan Carlsson said in a company press release on Monday.

“This will contribute to better service and increased access for customers which is the primary goal of the deregulation of the pharmacy sector,” he said.

The firms hope that the first in-store Ica pharmacies will be opened during the first quarter of 2010.

For the partnership to get off the ground the approval of the Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket) is required.

Ica competitor Kooperativa Förbundet (KF) has previous announced a similar cooperation with the Finnish Oriola-KD group.

Sweden’s state-run pharmacy monopoly ended on July 1st 2009, paving the way for new entrants into the market for prescription and non-prescription drug sales.

The second stage of the pharmacy monopoly deregulation, set to take effect on November 1st, will allow grocery stores and other retail outlets to sell certain non-prescription drugs to customers over the age of 18.

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RACISM

Pharmacy to launch plasters for darker skin

Swedish pharmacy chain Apoteket has told The Local it is hoping to offer a range of bandaids suitable for customers with darker skin tones by the end of the year as part of efforts to cut discrimination.

Pharmacy to launch plasters for darker skin
An Apoteket store in Stockholm. Photo: Roger Vikström/TT
The company, which has 370 stores across Sweden said it had come up with the idea after talking to a number of Swedish anti-racism charities.
 
“We're looking at whether it's possible to have different coloured plasters but we haven't made a final decision on it yet,” Communications Director Eva Fernvall told The Local on Wednesday.
 
“It won't happen by next week but we hope to have something in place by the end of the year,” she added.
 
Apoteket faced criticism earlier this week by a Swedish blogger who runs the website Vardagsrasismen.nu (which translates as 'Everyday Racism').
 
Paula Dahlberg told public broadcaster Sveriges Radio on Monday that the pharmacy giant was contributing to racism by only offering shades of beige plasters (also called bandaids in some countries) on its shelves.
 
But Fernvall insisted that the company's decision to trial darker products was made long before the writer made the comments.
 
“The fact she said that demonstrates that there are heated discussions about immigrants and refugees right now,” she said, adding that the national chemist chain was committed to reducing discrimination.
 
She admitted that the plaster plan was “unusual” and noted that she had “never heard of anything like this in any other countries”.
 
Debates around immigration have intensified over the last 12 months in Sweden, which currently takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation.
 
The nationalist Sweden Democrat party is the third largest in parliament after winning 12.9 percent of the vote in elections in September 2014 and is continuing to gain public support.
 
Sweden's government has said it is committed to maintaining the nation's reputation for tolerance and offering help to refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East and Africa. But it has welcomed efforts by the European Commission to encourage other European Union member states to take in a greater share of asylum seekers.