Drugs and alcohol – The Swedish monopolies
Abstract: The Swedish pharmacy monopoly was established 1970. The purpose of the monopoly was to adapt to the medical, technical and economical development. The Hanner case started 2005, when the Stockholm district court requested a preliminary ruling concerning the Swedish pharmacy monopoly. Krister Hanner was charged with marketing non-prescription medicinal preparations, against the Law on medicinal preparations. Hanner questioned the Swedish regulation’s compliance with the EU legislation and so did the ECJ. A few years before the Hanner case, the Landskrona district court referred questions to the ECJ concerning the State monopoly on the retail of alcoholic beverages. Franzén was charged with violation of Alkohollagen – the Law on Alcohol, because he had sold wine. The ECJ stated in the cases that Article 37.1 TFEU shall be applied on State monopolies of a commercial character. The selection system of a sales monopoly shall be founded on criterions that are independent from the origin of the products and give an opportunity to insight, motivations of decisions and an independent monitoring procedure. In the Hanner case you can see that the risk of discrimination is enough to make a national legislation inconsistent with EU rules. The Swedish government wanted to sell Apoteket AB in order to give the consumers more possibilities in the market and to put the market into competition. The Government was optimistic because of positive facts on the liberalisation of other markets in Sweden. However, the report from the Swedish National Audit Office presented a work that could have been done in a better way. The pharmacy monopoly as it was 2005 was not EU consistent, but the ruling from the ECJ did not mean the end for the state owned pharmacy as such. Had Sweden changed its regulations according to the ECJ’s comments, the transparency would have increased and the risks of discrimination would have decreased considerably.
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