Ban On Third-Party and Multiple Ownership

In Germany, only pharmacists may operate a pharmacy. This principle guarantees the proper pharmaceutical supply of the population. The ban on third-party and multiple ownership stresses the personal responsibility and liability of self-employed pharmacists in the healthcare sector. It separates the pharmaceutical supply from companies' exclusive intention to maximise return. This ensures an ideal framework for an independent support of the patients. In its ruling of 19 May 2009, the European Court of Justice confirmed that the ban on third-party ownership in Germany is an acceptable and effective tool of customer protection.

If third-party and multiple ownership became legal, the supply of pharmaceutical drugs would become dependent on purely commercial interests. Furthermore, oligopolies in the form of pharmacy chains that are subject to the financial aims of their shareholders would not generate any economic savings. The ban on third-party and multiple ownership is a means of preventive consumer protection, which is permitted for the health care systems of the EU member states by article 152 of the EC Treaty. With the freedom of establishment, Germany has a more liberal system than many other EU member states where the number of pharmacies is limited by the respective governments.