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ACM: room for collaboration involving the distribution of essential drugs for COVID-19 patients

Hospitals, hospital pharmacies, and pharmaceutical wholesalers are allowed to collaborate closely with each other during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in order to prevent or reduce any shortages of essential drugs. To that end, the National Coordination Center for Prescription Drugs (LCG) was set up recently, and the LCG has asked the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) whether this collaboration creates any anticompetitive risks. ACM does not expect the collaboration to pose any risks. This collaboration is temporary and necessary for preventing as much as possible any national and regional shortages of a number of drugs from occurring.

What are the activities of the LCG?

The LCG assesses supply of and demand for 14 essential drugs, and coordinates the allocation and distribution thereof among hospitals. These drugs are needed in the IC units and for surgeries (including emergency surgeries). Demand for these drugs has risen tremendously as a result of the current crisis. By coordinating procurement and distribution of these drugs, shortages may be prevented.

Collaborations are allowed

ACM does not expect this collaboration to pose any anticompetitive risks. In that context, ACM finds it important that the collaboration is transparent, temporary, and necessary for the prevention of shortages. In addition, measures have been implemented in order to ensure that wholesalers are not able to exchange any information on prices or inventories. After all, such information is not needed for the prevention of shortages.

Collaborations in order to prevent harm caused by the crisis

The rules and regulations that ACM enforces offer the room that is needed for working together in these extraordinary times in order to prevent people and businesses from getting harmed by the crisis. ACM will not take any action if collaborations involve transparent, temporary and necessary measures that do not go beyond than what is needed. ACM wishes to help find the right balance between the interests of all parties involved, both in the short term as well as in the long term. In that way, ACM does its part so that markets continue to work well for people and businesses. In that context, businesses are given room and have ACM’s trust, but ACM also remains vigilant.