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Dur­ing the Cold War, Aus­tria was the gate­way to the East­ern Bloc. In 1989-90, how­ever, the bor­ders were opened, and Aus­tria was no longer con­sid­ered the fron­tier to com­mu­nism. Instead, it became one of the biggest investors in the reformed coun­tries to the east.

Aus­tria is an impor­tant cred­i­tor for the coun­tries in East­ern Europe; the Austrian econ­omy is strong, with an unem­ploy­ment rate of only 4.5%.

The Austrian phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal mar­ket is attrac­tive to for­eign investors and exporters; the share of inter­na­tional prod­ucts in Aus­tria amounts to 80%—a fairly large figure. The country is home to 2,500 phar­ma­cies, with a citizen-to-pharmacy ratio of 3,500 people per 1 pharmacy, and the phar­ma­cist must own at least 51% of the business.

A mar­ket analy­sis and cross-country com­par­i­son show that the OTC mar­ket in Aus­tria has sub­stan­tial man­age­ment and devel­op­ment poten­tial. With an OTC mar­ket share of 12%, the coun­try’s pharmaceutical market is an attrac­tive poten­tial entry point for many com­pa­nies. It is esti­mated that the Austrian OTC mar­ket will grow 2.4% per annum until 2018, when it will reach an esti­mated mar­ket value of US $0.69 bil­lion. Increased use of OTC med­ica­tions can con­serve scarce resources and sup­ple­ment the costs of own­er­ship lost each year.

Each phar­macy in Aus­tria is allowed to run at least one branch phar­macy, which makes for a total of 23 branch phar­ma­cies. There is a very small list of OTC med­i­cines avail­able out­side phar­ma­cies (in drug­stores, in other words). Inter­net phar­ma­cies are not per­mit­ted, and own­er­ship is also reg­u­lated. Co-ownership is pos­si­ble, pro­vided that the man­ag­ing phar­ma­cist holds more than 51%. Austria’s cost-containment poli­cies in the healthcare sec­tor could spur a rise in the con­sump­tion of gener­ics, how­ever, and Aus­tria will be a strong com­peti­tor for devel­op­ing coun­tries.