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The Austrian Federal Competition Authority publishes the first interim report on “The Austrian Pharmacy Market” of the sector inquiry in the healthcare market

Vienna, on May 18, 2018. Since the beginning of 2017, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) is analysing the Austrian healthcare market.

As part of the sector inquiry, the BWB is evaluating the competitive conditions on certain submarkets of the healthcare market. The analysis is based on requests for information to market participants, scientific literature as well as experiences and investigations of other national competition authorities. Furthermore, intensive talks take place with undertakings, interest groups and other institutions, that are active in the healthcare market.

 

The objective is to identify possible restrictions of competition and to demonstrate opportunities for liberalisation, which can provide a wider margin of action to undertakings and benefits for consumers. Studies confirm that a certain degree of competition may lead to improved healthcare, better prices and higher quality of products and services in the healthcare market.

First interim report: “The Austrian Pharmacy Market” now published

The report analyses possible restrictions of competition in the pharmacy market concerning

  • market entry for pharmacies (compulsory needs assessment)
  • ownership structure of pharmacies (ia third-party ownership ban, wholesalers, ban of chain pharmacies)
  • and general rules for the operation of pharmacies (ia opening hours, provision of services, online pharmacies, sale of OTC-pharmaceuticals exclusively in stationary pharmacies).

The report analyses, if existing restrictions of competition are necessary to ensure the proper supply with pharmaceuticals or if liberalisation can lead to a more efficient outcome for consumers.

Dr. Thanner: “There is potential for more competition in the pharmacy market. In the first interim report, we present recommendations that will lead to competition that is more efficient. The recommendations result in benefits for consumers and operators of pharmacies.

In Austria, the healthcare market has not yet been subject to a competitive analysis. Hence the generated results should be taken into account for a modern reform of the healthcare system, since competition leads to greater innovational strength of enterprises, higher quality of products or services and better prices.”

In the appendix, you will find the interim report “The Austrian Pharmacy Market” as well as a short overview “The Austrian Pharmacy Market - Recommendations from a Competition Law Perspective” divided into Problem Analysis/Consequences/Proposed Solution/Benefits. With this first report, the BWB aims to launch a general discussion on increased competition in the healthcare industry.

Since the healthcare market can be divided into various submarkets, certain areas have been defined for a competitive analysis. Especially in the following markets the FCA has received complaints about anti-competitive behavior:

The AFCA focuses precisely on

  1. the market for Austrian pharmacies
  2. the market for ambulance service and medical transport
  3. the market for healthcare insurance
  4. the market for hospitals

Suggestions and remarks can be sent at wettbewerb[at]bwb.gv.at. Your contribution will be treated confidentially.