Estonian competition watchdog: Hospital pharmacies should be able to import all medicines

  • 2019-08-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Considering the poor competition in the retail of medicinal products on the one hand and hospitals' potential for competing with retailers on the other hand, the Estonian Competition Authority recommends to extend hospital pharmacies' import rights to all medicinal products. 

Hospital pharmacies' right to import medicines without marketing authorization does little to improve the poor competitive environment in the pharmaceutical market, the Competition Authority said in its comment regarding a bill seeking to amend the Medicinal Products Act. When it comes to sales of medicinal products for human use, sales to hospital pharmacies account for 30 percent of Estonian retailers' revenue, it appears from an overview of the pharmaceutical market.

The amendment proposed in the bill may improve the availability of medicinal products for patients; however, it will not result in any significant price competition or cost-saving in health insurance funds as pharmaceuticals without marketing authorization account for less than two percent of the total market.

If hospital pharmacies were authorized to purchase medicinal products from other wholesalers in the European Union in addition to those in Estonia, and could also obtain medicines directly from producers, hospitals, in turn, would be able to buy them at a lower price. The measure has little effect on fostering competition, however, head of the competition division Kristel Roomusaar wrote in the agency's position on the bill sent to the Ministry of Social Affairs.