Health Ministry: Too many pharmacies in Latvia

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Latvia has 766 pharmacies according to 2019 data, but an effective system would be ensured with 480, or 37% less, said Health Ministry August 12.

Health Ministry (HM) said that the number of pharmacists per 100 000 inhabitants in Latvia corresponds to the OECD standard but the number of pharmacies is 44% larger than needed.

"This points to the fact that there is a great number of pharmacies in Latvia with fewer pharmacists, which poses a risk to high-quality pharmaceutic care," said the Ministry.

Because more and more pharmacies belong to big merchants, some market participants dominate over others. Thus, competition declines. To avoid this, Health Ministry is reviewing the locations and distribution of pharmacies. The revision aims to:

  • promote access to high-quality pharmaceutical care;
  • promote efficient functioning of pharmacies;
  • ensure a smooth and more rational distribution of pharmacies;
  • reduce the risk of integrating individual pharmacies into major pharmacy networks;
  • prevent market participants from taking advantage by carrying out manipulative activities.

Work on the revision of pharmacy criteria was launched last year, resulting in amendments to Cabinet regulations.

It is planned that in future, in areas with a population of less than 4 000, a single pharmacy will be available.

The current system allows two pharmacies to operate in such a location, which in practice has not proven to be a system beneficial to the quality of pharmaceutical care. 

Nor will it be allowed to open a pharmacy closer than 500 metres from an already existing pharmacy.

This will make it possible to ensure that pharmacies don't focus in one place. Exception applies to hospital areas and malls.

Also, in order to increase competition for pharmacies, one pharmacy owner will be allowed to own only one pharmacy in the hospital area.

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