Archive for Italian Monopoly

Italian pharmacies: the fairy tale capitalism

Posted in Daily Life, Economics, Stupidity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Jul 04, 2008 by Cicero

Pharmacies are one of the most globalized entities in the world. I mean, a drugstore always works more or less in the same way: you go there and get the medicines necessary to improve your health. Of course, there are some variations, but the overall model is like this.

As you might expect, things are a bit different in Italy. Here, although there are pharmacies, they have an old fashioned way. A number of Italian idiosyncrasies produces an atmosphere of the fifties.

First of all, the drug market is state controlled, with tabled drug prices, and no price competition among pharmacies.

Additionally, the pharmacies have the monopoly to sell drugs, even the over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. That is, to get something simple as a Tylenol (which is called here Tachipirina) you have to go to a pharmacy. No chance to find it at a supermarket!

And all pharmacies are family-owned businesses. No drugstore chains and no competition, my friend. It is simply forbidden to establish a drugstore chain in Italy. Every pharmacy belongs to a family and attends to a particular region.

As a result, Italian pharmacies form a fairy tale capitalism: controlled prices, regional monopolies, family-owned businesses and no competition. That is the real Italy. An unreal country.