Committee throws out pharmacy bill after upper chamber veto

Ljubljana – The parliamentary Health Committee rejected amendments to the pharmacy act on Friday evening after the National Council vetoed the changes in late October. The bill was thrown out in an 8:7 vote.

In the repeated procedure, the amendments would need an absolute majority to be adopted, so ten MPs would have to support them at the committee level.

The changes had been proposed by the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), but were then considerably amended. The National Assembly passed the amendments on 20 October.

The bill would lift the ban on vertical integration of pharmacies and drug wholesalers in cases when the wholesaler is incorporated by a public pharmacy or municipality, thus allowing Slovenian wholesalers LL Grosist and Farmadent to remain linked in terms of ownership with the Ljubljana and Maribor municipalities, respectively.

Under the current law, both wholesalers will have to terminate these link by the end of the year.

However, on 27 October, the upper chamber of parliament vetoed the bill in a 14:10 vote after the suspensive veto was proposed by the group representing employers in the National Council.

The group argued that regardless of the amendments, private pharmacies would still be banned from incorporating wholesalers and vice versa, which, the group believes, creates inequality between stakeholders in the market and violates the constitutional right to free economic initiative.

In the latest vote at the committee level, the centre-left opposition and the SMC supported the bill, whereas the coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) voted against.