However state-owned Apoteket AB, which until summer 2009 was the only pharmacy operator in Sweden, still holds a special position in the market despite the deregulation of pharmacies.
The Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket) has stated that the government needs to develop a clear, transparent and long term ownership policy for Apoteket AB
“There is some ambiguity from the government, that we think needs to be straightened out ” said Thomas Ringbom, project manager the Competition Authority.
They also proposed that there should be a practical guide for small individual operators who want to open pharmacies.
The owner’s directive for Apoteket AB states, among other things, that they “may not establish new outpatient pharmacies to a greater extent than required to maintain the group’s existing market share”
The Competition Authority considers that the wording is unclear and raises several questions, such as the size of the market share Apoteket has to defend and how the share is calculated – by circulation, number of pharmacies or otherwise.
Since deregulation, more than 20 new pharmacy companies have established themselves in Sweden and around 200 new local pharmacies have opened, with applications to open 200 more in the coming two years, according to a survey by the Competition Authority.
The effect of the deregulation of pharmacies has been that many small towns now have pharmacies that did not have one prior to July 2009.
Opening times have also been extended.