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Private pharmacies return to Sweden

AFP/The Local · 18 Jan 2010, 08:24

Published: 18 Jan 2010 08:24 GMT+01:00

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"After hard work for a long time, we are now ready to open the first pharmacy in Sweden which is privately owned since 1971," Hägglund said as reporters and a small crowd looked on.

The state-owned Apoteket chain of pharmacies was until Sunday the sole provider of prescription medication in Sweden, and was until November 2009 also the only provider of non-prescription drugs such as headache tablets or other over-the-counter products.

Sweden's parliament in May 2008 voted in favour of the centre-right government's plans to open up the country's market for prescription and non-prescription drugs to competition.

In November 2009, the Swedish state sold 465 of its estimated 900 state-owned Apoteket stores to four firms, all of them Swedish companies established for the sole purpose of running the pharmacies.

The pharmacy inaugurated on Sunday, in the Kungsholmen district of Stockholm, was the first of such pharmacies to operate under its own brand name. It is operated by Medstop, which has also taken over a further 61 pharmacies across Sweden.

"We want to increase accessibility and think that can be achieved through competition" in the pharmacy market, Hägglund said Sunday of the new pharmacy system.

As of November 1st, 2009, Swedes wanting to buy non-prescription drugs could do so at selected stores, including some gas stations and grocery shops.

Story continues below…

The Swedish government has previously argued that putting an end to the Apoteket monopoly would improve the availability of medicines for customers in the form of more pharmacies and longer opening hours, and create downward pressure on prices as more providers entered the market.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:35 January 18, 2010 by SaltWater
Won't take long to Sweden be a country with very rich and very poor people, Health has no price, should never be a business! And in my country 99% of pharmacies are private, and our Health system is years behind Swedes health care.
09:39 January 18, 2010 by DAVID T
It's about time - at least now I can buy a headache tablet in the evening locally instead of having to travel to Stockholm. Hopefully there will be more choice as well.
12:06 January 18, 2010 by NickM
Another victory for profit over people. Is being able to buy an asprin at midnight in a petrol station really worth turning pharmaceutical products in a profit driven race to the bottom like everything else? Within 10 or 20 years, Sweden will have fake pharmaceutical products on its shelves just like has happened in the UK. Profit doesn't always equal progress.
13:28 January 18, 2010 by Puffin
It might drive down prices - in the UK this summer I was able to buy a small pack of paracetomol for 39p in Superdug (just 4 or 5 kronor)
13:52 January 18, 2010 by NickM
That's true. Pharmaceutical prices are unbelievably low in the UK compared to here. But that's true of many things.
14:46 January 18, 2010 by Prat
Another danger is supply chain control. Bootleg drugs are a huge problem around the world. Apoteket was able to purchase medicines in large lots directly from the manufacturers, but the smaller retailers may cut corners or be more easily tricked. Professionally-packaged pirate pharmaceuticals reportedly are already responsible for thousands of deaths in the developing world, and are steadily infiltrating the British market; we're perhaps next.
14:50 January 18, 2010 by Gwrhyr
It appears that pharmacy's name is "Medstop"... what an uninspired and boring name. They should have come up with something a little more catchy or at the very least Swedish.

I think this is a good thing and I'm a supporter of the left. So why do I think this is a good thing? Apoteket was a business, too, which people tend to forget. People seem to think government-owned monopolies aren't businesses, but they are, so there is no real justification in having them.
15:41 January 18, 2010 by Puffin
Now if we could only get Boots to set up some Swedish branches....

At one time Boots were interested in setting up in Sweden but I don't know whether they still are
16:34 January 18, 2010 by maxbrando
One commenter says that health has no price. Of course it does. And this person comments that his health system is years behind Sweden's. I'll bet the tax system is also years behind. Thank God. But just remember, no one in Sweden has developed any new medicines for decades - only because there is no profit in it for anyone except the Swedish state. Why bother.
07:56 January 19, 2010 by Angst
First private pharmacy opened on Sunday? We have had privatised apotek for several months! But it seems now that apoliva products are not being restocked by the privates. Great shame as it undermines the idea of competition between pharmaceutical companies.
19:28 January 20, 2010 by Bender B Rodriquez
Lol, I really don't know how this site seems to attract so many retards like maxbrando. Here's a clue for you jackass: look up AstraZeneca among others before you come back and spew more you your brainless bullshit here...
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