Luxemburg - Competition Authority Publishes Results of Sector Inquiry into Medicines and Pharmacies and Makes Recommendations for Regulatory Reform
On 16 June 2022, the Luxemburg Competition Authority (LCA) published its report (the Report) detailing the outcome of a sector inquiry into medicines and pharmacies (see, attached press release and Report). The Report does not analyse possibly anticompetitive behaviour of private firms but focuses on the market-distorting effects of the regulatory framework. As a result, the LCA makes several recommendations for regulatory change which the LCA believes will enhance competition, increase efficiencies, and reduce costs, while safeguarding public health and, when it comes to pharmacies, the public service component of that economic activity.
The LCA advocates for:
- abolishing regulated maximum prices of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines;
- diversifying the importation of medicines, including OTC products, by reducing the reliance on medicines sourced in Belgium and turning more to France;
- enhancing generic competition by (i) creating more categories of substitutable medicines; (ii) encouraging the identification of medicines on prescriptions by their international non-proprietary name; (iii) offering financial incentives to prescribers and pharmacists for dealing in generics; and (iv) promoting generic medicines;
- reducing (or mitigating the effects of) medicine shortages by (i) enhancing generic competition; (ii) organising public procurement procedures; (iii) creating a database for shortages; (iv) reducing territorial restrictions that result from diverging regulatory frameworks in the EU Member States; and (v) encouraging production increases by the supplying firms;
- expanding the possibilities of the online sale of medicines by, for example, authorising the online commercialisation of prescription medicines; and
- reforming the pharmacy business by (i) making the establishment of new pharmacies easier; (ii) opening the ownership of pharmacies to outside investors; (iii) authorising the sale of OTC medicines outside pharmacies; and (iv) giving pharmacies a larger role in healthcare tasks such as vaccinations.