Doctors are compensated for writing prescriptions

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Shipping model "argomed" not legal

Self-dispensing is prohibited in Aargau. Doctors are only allowed to dispense prescription drugs in emergencies and are only allowed to run a private pharmacy in certain cases. Only pharmacies are allowed to sell drugs. Doctors who took part in the "argomed" drug delivery model have circumvented the ban on self-dispensation. This is the conclusion of the government council. It thus confirms a decision by the Department of Health and Social Affairs.

The "argomed" drug delivery model works as follows: Doctors practicing in the canton of Aargau who are shareholders of argomed Ärzte AG or are affiliated with them issue prescriptions and send them to the Zur Rose AG pharmacy in Steckborn. The pharmacy then sends the prescribed medication directly to the patient.

The Zur Rose AG pharmacy in Steckborn is basically a normal public pharmacy (with a mail order license). What is special, however, is that it is mostly owned by doctors. Around eighty percent of the pharmacy's shareholders are doctors. As an independent pharmacy, it also represents the interests of the medical profession.

The doctors participating in the pharmacy via shares have an economic interest in a good operating result for the pharmacy. By issuing prescriptions for "their" pharmacy, they promote their economic activity and thus their operating results.

The Zur Rose AG pharmacy also financially compensates doctors who send her prescriptions. It can therefore be assumed that the doctors will benefit financially if they send prescriptions to Zur Rose AG instead of to another pharmacy. The doctors concerned are thus competing with the local pharmacies beyond the normal mail order business. In doing so, they circumvent the prohibition on self-dispensation. The doctors concerned do not dispense the drugs directly to their patients, but indirectly via the Zur Rose AG mail-order pharmacy. They either have a financial share in this or they receive financial compensation from it.

Resolutions of the government council

The government council passed the following resolutions, among others:

  • Doctors without a self-dispensing permit who are shareholders of Zur Rose AG are not allowed to participate in direct mailing with Zur Rose AG
  • Doctors without a self-dispensing permit who are shareholders of argomed Ärzte AG or are affiliated with them are only allowed to participate in direct mailing with Zur Rose AG if they do not generate any economic benefit from it. The annual lump sum that you receive from Zur Rose AG may only cover the costs.
  • Doctors without a self-dispensing permit are not allowed to participate in the direct mailing with Zur Rose AG if they are compensated for this directly by the pharmacy.

An appeal against these decisions can be lodged with the administrative court of the canton of Aargau within thirty days.

Two popular initiatives for drug dispensing in Aargau are pending

The popular initiative "Yes to medical drug dispensing" was submitted on April 12, 2011 with 7,994 valid signatures. The initiative wants doctors to be able to dispense medication.

The popular initiative "Together instead of against each other" was submitted on September 27, 2011 with 51,405 valid signatures. The initiators would like the pharmacists to be responsible for the supply of medicines. Doctors should be able to dispense medication in an emergency and if no pharmacy is available within a reasonable distance.

The two popular initiatives should be put to a vote as quickly as possible. The referendum is planned for 2013.

  • Government Council
  • Department of Health and Social Affairs