‘Apothekenpreise’ – soon history?

In Germany, if something is ridiculously expensive for what it is, we refer to it having an Apothekenpreis (pharmacy price). If you’ve seen a typical Germany pharmacy (or chemist), you’ll understand why. They are usually fitted out with the top-of-the-market shop fittings and very well-staffed. Which means that we pay 2 or 3 times as much for common drugs such as aspirin in Germany compared to the UK or the USA.

That could be about to change. Medco Health Solutions have just acquired a majority interest in the Dutch internet company Europa Apotheek Venlo, who sell medication and drugs on the German market. Europa Apotheek provides a centralized dispensing-by-mail service through drop-off locations in Drogerie Markt stores, Germany’s second largest drug store chain – a distribution model similar to Medco’s system, pioneered in the United States.

Medco had net revenues of 17 billion dollars from its internet business last year, and will very likely shake up the staid German market, which would be no bad thing – unless you happen to run a pharmacy.