RASK challenges State in Supreme Court dispute

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RASK challenges State in Supreme Court dispute

On 9 April, a public hearing took place in the Supreme Court in a matter, where RASK represents pharmacy Tamsalu Uus Apteek in a dispute with the State Agency of Medicines (Ravimiamet).

In 2014 and 2015, amendments to the Medicines Act were adopted that stipulated as a principle that a pharmacy should be owned by a pharmacist; that is, the provision of pharmaceutical services was subject to restrictions on ownership and integration.

According to the appellant, the activities of the State Agency of Medicines and franchise pharmacies are not in line with the spirit of the reform, as the franchise pharmacies, with the permission of the Agency of Medicines, have attempted to out compete pharmacies in small towns that are owned by individual pharmacists before the reform was even implemented.

More specifically, the appellant requested an annulment of the decision of the Agency of Medicines authorising Euroapteek to start operating in Tamsalu. According to the appellant, the activities of the pharmacy are limited to the place of employment indicated in the activity license, and opening a new pharmacy is therefore no longer possible. A new license should be applied for in the new location and should follow the proprietary and integration restrictions set in 2014 and 2015.

Tartu Administrative Court and Tartu Circuit Court dismissed the appeals. According to the Agency of Medicines, franchise pharmacies and both the Administrative and Circuit Court, it is also possible to open new pharmacies during the transitional period, and until spring 2020, ownership and integration restrictions cannot be implemented.

The decision of the Supreme Court could acquire significant meaning in matters of vital importance to the state. Firstly, how much control should be given to reviewing the essential conditions of an activity license, which is the basis of an activity of an administrative authority. Also, how thorough is the regulation of a transition to a new legal order, and what role should it play in situations where the state decides to reform a particular field, so that the proposed and adopted reform and its objectives can be achieved. In a specific case, such an objective would be to preserve pharmacy-based pharmaceutical services, which would improve public health.

The Supreme Court discussed the matter with three members of the judiciary, the date of the decision will be announced in May 2018.