In July, the National Federation of Pharmacy Owners (Federfarma) lodged a complaint with the Rome public prosecutor's office decrying what it described as "serious deficiencies" in the supply of medicines resulting from unbridled parallel trade. The Federation noted that many pharmaceutical companies have calculated their supply of medicines to the Italian market based on the estimated national demand, but because wholesalers and also retail pharmacists who have acquired a wholesale license can then re-export medicines without limitation to markets with a higher retail price, important medicines have become unavailable to Italian patients for more than 20 days at a time.

These include some epilepsy medicines, anxiolytics, and medicines to treat Parkinson's disease. The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) maintains on its website a list of medicines found to be in short supply. The prosecutor’s office has not yet announced what action, if any, it will take on the complaint.

This latest move by Federfarma comes at the same time as other industry groups have been expressing increased frustration with parallel trade (see our Article on the latest measures in Hungary to deal with the problem). The federation has called for the renewed consideration of dual-pricing systems that would require medicines to circulate across borders at a single European price, while applying a discounted price to in-country purchases by national health authorities. Any action will have to be taken at the Community level, as the conditions that permit parallel trade have been driven by the European Commission and decisions of the European Court of Justice.