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Liberalization of the pharmaceutical market in Denmark

The only way to get prescriptive medicine in Denmark is if you go to the pharmacies who currently owns a monopoly in Denmark. These drug stores have well educated staff (e.g. only pharmacists) who are able to advise the customer. A liberalization of the pharmaceutical market is an ongoing debate as some supermarkets would like to enter the market, and the pharmaceutical market in Sweden and Norway got liberalized a few years ago. The Scandinavian countries often compare themselves and try to apply well working policies from the other Scandinavian countries.


All politicians agree on that a prerequsite to sell prescriptive medicine is that you should have a minimum of pharmacists who can advise the customers.


The bullets below shows the opinions of the parties involved in the ongoing debate:


Pro liberalization:


  • Supermarkets and potential retailers
  • The minister of industries
  • The cheif of Economics of Health in Denmark


Against liberalization:


  • The pharmacies
  • The minister of Health
  • The wholesalers


The defendants of the monoply claim that the monopoly is the best solution because the market for pharmaceutical is not a regular market and therefore is regulation indispensable. Furthermore some studies of the liberal markets in Norway and Sweden has shown that the security of the patient decreased since the introduction of the free market.[1] Another result of the liberalization in the other scandinavien countries is that the pharmacists have less time with the patient due to the free market, where cost reduction is an absolute necessity in order to remain in business.


People in favour of the liberalization claim that a free market would increase competition and eventually lead to lower prices. Moreover a liberalization whould probably lead to more suppliers and therefore reduce the distance for the customers.


The danish government made a similar liberalization of the market of medicine bought without presciption which resulted in decrease in the prices. And you would think that the results of a liberalization of prescriptive medicine would probably have the same effect.


The danish citizens answered a survey regarding the liberalization and 68 % of the respondants said that they wouldn’t feel safe buying prescriptive medicine in supermarkets. Finally 81 % answered that only doctors and/or pharmacists should be able to own and run pharmacies.


I am in favour of the free market and therefore i would appreciate a liberal market for pharmaceuticals but the retailers should have at least one pharmacist working at all time.




Andreas Mølgaard Laursen


[1] The security of the patient is measured as how many pharmacists would feel safe buying drugs in their own store. 


Author: studentnovasbe

Master student in Nova Sbe

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