Disputes over pharmacy relocations continue despite Supreme Court ruling

Benu Pharmacy in Central Tallinn.
Benu Pharmacy in Central Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

According to Tamro Baltics, owner of the Benu chain of pharmacies operating in Estonia, the Chamber of Pharmacists is misleading the public by selectively quoting the Supreme Court of Estonia.

In a statement to the State Agency of Medicines, the Chamber of Pharmacists said that the agency must stop large chains from ignoring the pharmacy reform by using relocation schemes to open new pharmacies.

"The Chamber of Pharmacists' statement from this morning alleging that the State Agency of Medicines' actions are in any way unlawful in allowing pharmacies to relocate is deliberately misleading the public, as it is quoting the Supreme Court's ruling selectively," Tamro said. "Relocating pharmacies is not illegal."

Tamro Baltics CEO Leon Jankelevitsh said in a press release that the announcement sent to the media by the Chamber of Pharmacists is directly tied to the fact that the State Agency of Medicines is preparing to grant an activity license to Benu for operating on the premises of North Estonia Medical Centre (PERH), adding that the chamber is trying to intimidate the agency.

"Benu Pharmacy has been waiting to move onto its premises in accordance with a rental contract concluded with PERH nearly two years ago, and now that Apotheka, which illegally operated on said premises, has finally left, any and all tactics are being employed to prevent patients at PERH from getting a pharmacy," Jankelevitsh said.

According to Tamro, the chamber alleged in its announcement on Wednesday that the Supreme Court forbade the relocation of pharmacies.

"The May 29 decision in question, regarding the so-called Türi pharmacy case, however, does not include any such prohibition," the company continued, adding that relocation is permitted if the pharmacy continues to operate under the same local government, services the same area's consumer base and affects the same competitors.

Chamber: Agency allowing new pharmacies via relocation

"The pharmacy reform was announced in 2015, with a compromise that large pharmacy chains are allowed to own pharmacies during a five-year transition period, but new pharmacies could only be opened by pharmacists," Chamber of Pharmacists chairwoman Karin Alamaa-Aas said in a press release on Wednesday. "This was supposed to ensure a smooth transition from the current pharmacy system to pharmacist-owned pharmacies. The State Agency of Medicines, however, is nevertheless allowing large pharmacy chains to open new pharmacies via a relocation scheme. Such scheming directly infringes on the pharmacy reform."

In its statement to the State Agency of Medicines, the Chamber of Pharmacists has requested the agency put a stop to widespread administrative practice favoring pharmacy chains and allowing them to relocate their facilities, thereby also allowing them to expand their operations.

"Our assessment is that it directly violates the law and the guidelines set by the Supreme Court," the statement read.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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