NMa: More Competition between Pharmacies
The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) expects increasing competition between pharmacies. The branch organisation, KNMP, and its members have drawn up a compliance programme following an intervention by NMa. NMa hopes that the measures will contribute to preventing restrictions on competition, such as collective negotiations and policy with regard to the setting up new pharmacies which exclude new entrants from the market.
A compliance programme, in brief, is a package of measures and procedures to ensure compliance with the Competition Act. For instance, KNMP has appointed a so-called compliance officer who will play a proactive role in preventing, investigating and terminating possible restrictions on competition. KNMP's members are obliged to notify the compliance officer of dubious cases and infringements. In addition, this functionary may approach employees or members of his own accord.
René Jansen, a member of the Board of Directors of NMa: 'The pharmacy branch has given compliance with the Competition Act a prominent place on its agenda. Ultimately what is at issue is how pharmacies deal with their suppliers and buyers, and with each other in practice. NMa will continue to monitor the behaviour of KNMP and the pharmacies and will also monitor application of the compliance programme. A programme such as this does not replace regulation by NMa."
KNMP drew up these measures after NMa started an investigation into possible anti-competitive behaviour by KNMP and its members. The regulator had received reports on this from the market. NMa has decided not to pursue its investigation into KNMP and its members.
The healthcare sector remains a priority of NMa's Agenda 2006. This year NMa will remain alert to signals which it receives, for instance from its tip line, and it will continue to monitor the healthcare market activity. In doing so, NMa will cooperate with the Office of Health Regulation which is currently being established.