Reader ‘s opinion Pharmacies make money with vitamins and supplements

A separate online pharmacy license without a stone foot would increase competition and improve service throughout Finland.

Pharmacy Association Erkki Kostiainen, Communications Director, repeated (HS Opinion 17.11.) frequently heard arguments as to why competition in the pharmacy sector should not be increased, according to a report by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (KKV). Instead of deregulation, the pharmacists’ trustee is proposing changes to the drug fee and pharmacy tax. The methods are effective in curbing drug costs, but they have little effect on another pain point, the high incomes of pharmacists.

Despite the communication and business name entrepreneurship of pharmacists, the income of pharmacists is high. The operating profit margin of pharmacies is almost double that of the grocery trade. Contrary to popular belief, medicines are not the most profitable products in a pharmacy, but vitamins and supplements. Thus, the most effective way to reduce revenue is not to reduce sales of medicines but of other products.

The pharmacy expert brand is strong, and customers are happy to come to the pharmacy for natural product purchases instead of other channels. For this reason, sales must be cut by increasing competition between pharmacies – that is, there must be more pharmacies. As a by-product, the turnover of medicines per pharmacy will also decrease.

Finland’s current legislation on online pharmacies is conservative. An online pharmacy has to operate from a stone’s foot, which is not effective. A separate online pharmacy license without a stone foot would increase competition and improve service throughout Finland. Packages go where there are no pharmacies.

Kostiainen emphasized the role of pharmacies in health care as a justifier of the current system. So why do so many companies sell sales training to shield pharmacies? Sales are important everywhere, but the entrepreneur, including the pharmacist, is above all interested in the company’s result. The role of pharmacies as part of healthcare could be enshrined in the Medicines Act, in which case the matter would be resolved at once. The current role-free status only serves the interests of current pharmacists.

Our industry must give the line to reforms and influence their content, or someone else will dictate them for us. The end result would certainly not be in our interests.

Samuli Auno

pharmacist, Helsinki

Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS editorial. You can leave a comment or read the principles of writing at


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