In September 2022, the Norwegian government established a committee to prepare a Norwegian Official Report (Norges offentlige utredninger, NOU) about the future of pharmacies. The leader of the Norwegian Association of Pharmacists, Urd Andestad, was a member of the committee. 

The last day of January, committee leader, Tore Bråthen, presented the report to Minister of Health and Care services, Ingvild Kjerkol.

See the NOU in Norwegian here. 

Measures to hinder monopoly

The committee proposes several measures. Among others, they propose measures to weaken the monopoly like position of the three large pharmacy chains and open for more competition and different types of pharmacies. One of the changes will be to remove the regulation saying that all pharmacies, online pharmacies included, must have a physical pharmacy premises. 

They also propose measures to ensure technological development and interaction, and changes in the duty to report on the economy to ensure that the authorities better can evaluate the sector´s terms and conditions.

Will strengthen the professional focus in retail pharmacy,

Several issues created disagreement in the committee, but they were unanimous about strengthening the professional focus in retail pharmacy, and they propose several measures to achieve that goal. 

They call for more independent research on the pharmacies compliance to tasks required by law. They want better indicators of quality and annual report on the indicators to the authorities. In addition, they call for higher competence requirements, like obligatory education in pharmacy regulations for pharmacy managers and continuing education for pharmacists in pharmacies. 

The pharmacists are pleased

The leader of the Norwegian Association of Pharmacists, Urd Andestad, who was member of the committee, is satisfied with the result, even though she dissented on several points. 

— The Norwegian Association of Pharmacists is glad that the committee sees the need for pharmacies and pharmaceutical competence in them. It´s a potential for helping and guiding both the healthy and the sick in pharmacies. To strengthen the professional focus in retail pharmacy as the committee wants, will ensure that the patients still will be the focus, she says. 

Although, she would like to see the measures better fleshed out in the report. 

— The committee should have been clearer about measures on the issue. How can Norway use the pharmacists and pharmacies better to ensure fair use of the health service´s scarce resources? We also want more concrete measures to strengthen the supervising authority, both to increase the number of supervisions and how they are carried out. The population has high confidence in pharmacies, but it´s important that it is affirmed and maintained through public supervision. 

Urd Andestad