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Bundeskartellamt strengthens competition in the sale of blood glucose strips in Westphalia-Lippe

Date of issue: 01.10.2014

The Bundeskartellamt has concluded its cartel proceeding against the pharmacists association in Westphalia-Lippe (Apothekerverband Westfalen-Lippe e.V. Apothekerverband Westfalen-Lippe e.V. (AVWL)) in Münster. The AVWL had agreed with the major health insurance funds that patients be supplied with blood glucose strips preferably via pharmacies in Westphalia-Lippe and for this purpose had concluded a clause prohibiting the health insurance funds from controlling and influencing the procurement of these strips. This restricted the sales possibilities of competitors such as direct mailing companies or medical supplies shops. As a consequence of the Bundeskartellamt's proceeding AVWL has now promised to forgo its rights under its prohibitive control and influence clause.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "There is no justification why the pharmacists should have any exclusive rights in this area. If alternative medical supplies providers have the same chance to supply these products, this will stimulate competition in favour of the health insurance funds and statutory health insurance patients. Other health insurance funds and health care provider associations should examine whether they have agreed similar clauses in their contracts."

As part of its contract to supply pharmaceutical products the AVWL had agreed with the health insurance funds on a clause prohibiting them from controlling or influencing the procurement of blood glucose strips. According to the agreement the health insurance funds had to refrain from influencing doctors and health insurance patients to purchase blood glucose strips directly from certain other providers and from steering the procurement of the strips towards direct suppliers via special diabetes centres.

AVWL represents the interests of around 95 per cent of the pharmacists in the Westphalia-Lippe region. Under the provisions of Book V of the German Social Code it negotiates conditions for the sale of pharmaceutical products and blood glucose strips with the health insurance funds and health insurance associations.
The annual market volume of blood glucose strips in Germany is estimated at more than 600 million euros.

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