Europe's highest court ruled that German and Italian restrictions on pharmacy ownership were justified, dealing a blow to plans by European drugs distributor Celesio to expand in Germany.
“The freedom of establishment and free movement of capital do not preclude national legislation which prevents persons not having the status of pharmacists from owning and operating pharmacies,” the Court of Justice said in a statement.
“Italian and German legislation laying down such a rule is justified by the objective of ensuring that the provision of medicinal products to the public is reliable and of good quality,” the statement said.
Celesio, which owns UK drugs retailer Lloyds Pharmacy and derives almost half its operating earnings from Britain, is held back in its domestic market, Germany, by the law restricting pharmacy ownership to certified dispensing chemists and limiting the number of outlets in a drug-retail chain to four. (Reuters)