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what single market? May 19, 2009

Posted by Bradley in : eu , trackback

The ECJ (Grand Chamber) held today that Member States of the EU are allowed to require pharmacies to be owned and operated by pharmacists. The Court appeared to adopt a rather romantic view of the pharmacist as a professional, saying:

It is undeniable that an operator having the status of pharmacist pursues, like other persons, the objective of making a profit. However, as a pharmacist by profession, he is presumed to operate the pharmacy not with a purely economic objective, but also from a professional viewpoint. His private interest connected with the making of a profit is thus tempered by his training, by his professional experience and by the responsibility which he owes, given that any breach of the rules of law or professional conduct undermines not only the value of his investment but also his own professional existence.

Restricting ownership in this way was justified because requiring pharmacies to employ pharmacists (rather than to be owned by pharmacists) might not adequately ensure the independence of the employed pharmacists which might prejudice the health of customers. News reports suggest that DocMorris, the Netherlands based operation which has been making inroads into the German market, will need to focus on franchising rather than ownership as a result (as well as on mail order). But if the concern is really about the professional independence of the pharmacist, doesn’t franchising risk interfering with this too?


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