Investigation of pharmacy discounts

09 February 2007

Based on an approach from the Danish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Lif) in February 2006, the Ministry of the Interior and Health requested the Danish Medicines Agency to investigate whether any new discount arrangements were introduced in 2006 contrary to the rules in that area.

In its approach, Lif drew attention to the fact that the pharmacy sector is planning initiatives for a new type of discount arrangement and that an association of pharmacists (pharmacist chain) intends to offer selling a wide range of prescription-only medicinal products and in return the pharmacists will receive a special discount on the products in question. According to Lif, these new initiatives are completely contrary to the principles that have so far governed the trade between primarily wholesalers and pharmacists, but also between wholesalers and suppliers. Lif revealed that the parties involved are the wholesaler K.V. Tjellesen and the pharmacy chain Apotekeren.

Subsequently, the Danish Medicines Agency has investigated whether the three large Danish wholesalers in the medicine area in 2006 have introduced any new discount systems and whether they violate the rules on cost-reasoned discounts. The Danish Medicines Agency has also investigated the dispense practice at pharmacies that are part of the chain Apotekeren and compared their dispense practice to that of other pharmacies.

The report states:

  • that the current authority under the Danish Medicines Act has not given us access to sufficiently detailed information for us to be able to make a decision concerning the controversial discounts which wholesalers offer to pharmacies
  • that our investigation of the pharmacy dispense practice does not indicate that pharmacies that are part of the chain Apotekeren have been affected by discounts in a way that has made them hand out fewer inexpensive and more expensive packages (packages with A- and C-price respectively) than other pharmacies
  • that nothing suggests that pharmacies that are part of the chain Apotekeren take advantage of delivery failure to dispense other packages than the least expensive package available.

For further information, please contact Kim Helleberg, tel.: +45 4488 9399.

The Danish Medicines Agency, 9 February 2007