Pharmacies to be located in small towns by force?

According to Minister Moskov, when one has a facility in the big city where people have assets, one has to take responsibility for the system as well. According to the guild, the solution is to permit subsidiaries

Administratively forcible is the method imposed by the state that out of the 4 pharmacies, which an owner is entitled to have, one necessarily has to be located in a small village, the second one – to work round the clock and the other two – whatever the owner considers.

This is what was stated by Nikolay Kostov, chairman of the Association of Pharmacies Owners, in connection with the forthcoming reforms in the Drug Law by the Health Minister Dr. Petar Moskov, which would be the next one to be “repaired”. Kostov predicted that if the idea was implemented, the owners would go around it. For example, a natural or legal person would open up to 2 pharmacies in the cities wherever they decide, and this way the requirement for the other two would be avoided.

The Minister launched his proposal in February this year and then he said:” when one opens a pharmacy in the big city where people have assets, and it is effective, one has to take responsibility for the system, even if this is not a market method”.”Even during post-socialist times there was no such regulation! The opening of pharmacies is encouraged in small towns everywhere in the EU, but only where this is possible. In some places it is a lost cause,” said Kostov.

According to research, in order for a pharmacy to exist in the EU, there should be at least 1200 inhabitants, while in some places a pharmacy serves 15 000. Another determining factor is overcharge. The more it is “suppressed”, the more patients are needed in order for the facility to not go bankrupt. “In our case, although higher overcharge is permitted, it is usually 10-13 to 14%. Of course, if it is 30%, then the pharmacy can function even in a village with 800 people,” said Kostov. He added that people from smaller places have a different income and consumption than in cities. And if the village has no doctor, it is absurd to open a pharmacy, because no one can prescribe medication. And if the patient goes to a big city to see a doctor, it is logical he would to buy his drugs there as well.

Kostov recalled that years ago the state and the municipalities were allowed to open pharmacies, but they all were privatized, as they had debts. “So the state abdicated from this type of activity, and now wants to move it over to us”, he added. While the idea may seem social, it was “wild populism” that protects only the interests of the occupational group.  According to the Association of Pharmacies Owners a solution would be to allow the pharmacies in major cities to have branches in small villages which would work 1-2 times a week for several hours, and not only with a master pharmacist, but with an assistant pharmacist as well.