Ljubljana – The National Assembly voted 47 in favour and 37 against on Wednesday to endorse a bill amending the pharmacy practice act which lifts the ban on vertical integration of pharmacies and drug wholesalers in cases when the wholesaler is incorporated by a public pharmacy or municipality.
The bill was tabled by the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) in February and passed first reading in June with key changes being reintroduction of the option of vertical integration in pharmacy business and a highly controversial proposal to change the criteria to define the pharmacy network.
The latter proposal would make it possible to open new pharmacies or subsidiaries within a distance shorter than 400 metres in urban areas and at least five kilometres in other areas.
The idea was met with staunch opposition from the Chamber of Pharmacies, the Association of Private Pharmacies, and trade unions of pharmacists and of social care, which threatened a referendum if it was passed.
In response the parliamentary Health Committee removed most of the articles from the proposal and somewhat changed the provision re-introducing the option of vertical integration of pharmacies and drug wholesalers.
A wholesaler may thus be established by local communities and its profit may be used for solvency and
liquidity, equipment and investments, and development of human resources.
The provision relates to the wholesalers LL Grosist and Farmadent, which are connected in terms of ownership with the Maribor and Ljubljana municipalities, respectively.
The coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) put forward an amendment to remove that provision from the bill at the plenary but the majority voted the proposal down.
The two deputy groups also proposed allowing pharmacies to open a subsidiary in a municipality that does not have a pharmacy yet if there is a community health centre regardless of the distance between pharmacies mandated by the law. That amendment was voted down as well.