CZECH GOVERNMENT TO ALLOW INTERNET TRADE IN NON-PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

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The Czech government is planning to introduce a new bill that would allow the mail order delivery of non-prescription drugs. This would align the country's legislation with other Western nations.

However, drug producers and pharmacy groups claim that the new laws -- which would allow consumers to order drugs by phone or via the internet -- could harm the drug sector and are unnecessary. The Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (CAFF) is concerned that if a patient receives damaged goods or drugs with the instructions missing, the drug companies could end up being blamed.

Meanwhile, industry observers claim that the new system will be unsuccessful due to the proliferation of pharmacies in the country. They argue that in the Czech Republic, there is practically a pharmacy on every corner and that mass trade though the internet or mail order is unlikely to develop.

Furthermore, some market sources are concerned that drug sales on the internet could push down prices, possibly resulting in a price war, although they accepted that delivery charges for mail-order drugs could cancel out this out.

The pharmaceuticals bill is designed to harmonise drug legislation in the country with European Union (EU) standards. Other measures have included introducing Braille instructions on packaging and applying more stringent checks for production and distribution.