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PHARMACY

Swedish state pharmacies still enjoy ‘special position’: report

There has been great interest in starting new pharmacies in Sweden, which has led to a greater number of local pharmacies and increased consumer accessibilty according to a recent report.

Swedish state pharmacies still enjoy 'special position': report

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.

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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.