Ex-justice chancellor skeptical of pharmacy reforms, supports competition

Former justice chancellor Indrek Teder.
Former justice chancellor Indrek Teder. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Former Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder is one of the latest to weigh in on ongoing controversy about pharmacy reform.

The reforms first proposed by the social affairs ministry would separate practising pharmacists from larger chains, which critics say will lead to closure of hundreds of pharmacies.

Speaking on Vikerhommik on ERR's Vikerraadio Tuesday morning, Teder said he thought the planned reform will not bring about major changes, and in any case, the lobbying of associations representing the larger pharmacy chain will stymie it anyway.

"I am very skeptical, I believe that a little noise will be made, but it will remain," Teder said.

It would also narrow the market, he said, echoing others' claims that the reform would close the market to new entrants.

A proposal from representatives of pharmacy chains on Monday would allow the wholesalers to remain open, with independent pharmacists alone being able to open new outlets.

Medicines for sale outside pharmacies?

A second question connected with the reforms is whether to free up the market to allow over-the-counter products to be sold in other retailers, such as supermarkets.

Teder was more in favor of this.

"There would be an easy solution if there was clear competition and regular stores would have the right to sell drugs," he said.

"Why couldn't there be a regular store where you buy aspirin. Why can't a doctor sell it?" Teder asked, noting that competition could also be provided in this way, with hospitals also perhaps selling products currently only available at pharmacies.

Teder is a board member of the Estonian Patients Union (Eesti Patsientide Liit).

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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