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MONOPOLY

Goverment sacks board of pharmacy monopoly

Sweden’s government is set to replace the board of directors of the Apoteket AB pharmacy monopoly because the current board won’t accept the government’s rules for deregulation.

Goverment sacks board of pharmacy monopoly

At issue is the ownership directive put forward by Apoteket Omstrukturering AB, the parent company to Apoteket AB.

Health minister Göran Hägglund said that there is a difference of opinion between the board of the parent company and Apoteket AB.

“There have been different views between these boards, which isn’t so strange when you consider that there are a number of different issues to address, and that in some situations there can be different assessments and different conclusions. For my part, I don’t think there is any reason to make any more assessments than those already carried out by the restructuring company,” Hägglund told the TT news agency.

While the minister stopped short of saying that the government was firing the board of Apoteket AB, he didn’t deny that was the case.

“I wouldn’t be surprised by that headline even if I haven’t expressed myself that way,” he said.

Discussions between the board of the parent company and that of Apoteket AB have been ongoing since the summer. The Apoteket AB board learned of the new ownership directive last Friday.

“We’ve said no to the directive. We have objected in the sense that we refused to follow the instructions and directive we received. That’s the situation in reality,” said Apoteket AB board chair Per Båtelson to TT.

According to Båtelson, the board was unanimous in its view. He explained that the board had certain misgivings about how the directive treated the competition.

“I think it benefits our competitors in a way that is clearly iffy. It means micromanaging and putting limits on the company’s future growth which we can’t stand behind. The way they want to lock us in now would leave the company behind to such an extent that we won’t accept or be a part of it,” said Båtelson.

One of the measures affected by the proposed directive is Apoteket’s plans to have the Ica grocery store chain carry some of its products.

“We’ve had a planned partnership with Ica, which I can say now is more or less dead because we’re locked in until sometime into 2011 and Ica can’t wait so long,” said Båtelson.

A new board of directors for Apoteket AB will be chosen at an extra shareholders’ meeting to be held sometime in the near future.

The CEO of Apoteket, Stefan Carlsson, will remain at his post.

Apoteket Omstrukturering AB is owned by the state, with the health and social ministry acting as the principle owner.

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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.