On 18 May 2018, the NCA released the first interim report in connection with the sector inquiry into the health sector, summarizing the findings on the Austrian pharmacy market.

The pharmaceutical sector in Austria is tightly regulated. The partial report evaluates the competitive conditions and identifies potential restrictions of competition on the Austrian pharmacy market, in particular with respect to (i) market entry for pharmacies (e.g. compulsory requirements), (ii) ownership structure of pharmacies (various restrictions on ownership e.g. by third-parties, wholesalers, chains etc.), and (iii) rules governing the operation of pharmacies (i.a. opening hours, online pharmacies, sale of OTC-pharmaceuticals exclusively in stationary pharmacies).

The report presents recommendations – such as liberalization of access to and operation of pharmacies – to counteract potentially restrictive developments and to facilitate more effective competition to the benefit of consumers.

As part of the sector inquiry, the NCA is currently in the process of carrying out in-depth investigations in the following markets: pharmacies, ambulance service and medical transport, healthcare insurance and hospitals.