The government of Sweden has decided to allow stores that are not state-run pharmacies to sell non-prescription drugs. This latest move is the final step in ending the country’s monopoly on drugs and pharmacies, which has been in place for 35 years.
The Social Affairs Ministry released a statement saying “The government aims to make it possible to sell certain non-prescription drugs in other stores as of November 1st.” At the moment, only the Apoteket pharmacy chain can sell non-prescription and prescription drugs in Sweden. This has created a headache for Swedes who simply need an aspirin, but are forced to seek out the nearest branch of Apoteket.
The present centre-right government will also allow private interests to operate Apoteket stores across the country. The Local newspaper says the government feels by breaking up the monopoly, Swedes will enjoy improved availability of common medicines through longer opening hours and more pharmacies. Another effect of the new legislation is that drug prices should also become more competitive.
“At the same time it is important to underline that the pharmacy business will continue to be subjected to strict regulation,” the ministry stated. Customers for medication must be over 18 years old, and the drugs will be stored out of reach of customers, requiring staff to retrieve them.