By March 1, the State Agency of Medicines was expecting pharmacies across the country in danger of closure after the incoming pharmacy reforms to explain what they intended to do, but only a handful have announced their plans.
In February, the agency sent letters to pharmacies not complying with the pharmacy reform and to 35 local governments, where pharmacies will shut after the reform comes into effect on April 1, with letters seeking clarification on their future activities.
Communications Director Kristi Sarap told ERR that since March 1 was a Sunday, the agency would wait until Monday for more answers to arrive, but overall, only a few pharmacies not affiliated with large chains have announced their plans.
"I don't know about the chains, we'll go through it one by one since tomorrow," she added.
So far, however, Sarap says that the situation is gratifying, as after the Riigikogu failed to support the bill reverting to pharmacy reform last week, the agency has received 23 applications to comply with the requirements of the pharmacy reform and open new pharmacies.
"Before that, it was zero," said Sarap, who said it was now clear to pharmacies that there was no need to wait anymore.
At present, there are 494 general pharmacies in Estonia, 352 of them general pharmacies and 142 branch pharmacies.
On April 1, the transition period ends and pharmacies which do not qualify for a pharmacist's ownership, or are not majority owned by a pharmacist, may no longer provide pharmacy services.
The purpose of the changes is to strengthen the pharmacist's role in the healthcare system, to ensure the professional development of the pharmacy service and to reduce the impact of commercial interests on pharmacies.
Editor: Helen Wright