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Pharmacists go to Constitutional Court over legislation

The Association of Network Pharmacies (HGySz) has turned to the Constitutional Court over the act approved by parliament at the end of last year stipulating that pharmacies must be majority-owned by pharmacists, head of the association Karolina Kóródi told reporters on Wednesday.

Kóródi emphasized that "pharmacists have so far been able to perform their professional work freely", and do not wish to undertake the responsibility involved by ownership.

Many pharmacists could not purchase the ownership right even if they wished to, because they are unable to obtain credit, she added. Besides, pharmacies are operating at an average margin of 13%, of which wage costs account for 11%, and they cannot afford to repay credit. One-third of pharmacies have losses, she added.

The act was approved late last year and came into effect on January 1, not leaving pharmacies sufficient time to prepare for the changes, HGySz said.

Kóródi said the law stipulates that companies and groups of companies can operate a maximum of four pharmacies, but does not put similar limitations on private individuals.

Unless this is changed and ownership by private individuals is also restricted, HGySz legal advisor Endre Szentirmai said, the regulation will not be actually serve to reduce transparency. He also criticized the reason behind upsetting an existing corporate structure through an act with retroactive effect.