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Belgium & the Netherlands

Together, the Nether­lands and Bel­gium have a pop­u­la­tion of 27.7 mil­lion inhab­i­tants spread over an area of 71,600 km2. Their joint phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal mar­ket size was US $12.4 bil­lion for 2012, with anOTC share of US $1.7 bil­lion. In the Nether­lands, drug­stores have been per­mit­ted to sell OTC med­i­cines for about a cen­tury.

The value-added tax for med­i­cines in both the Nether­lands and Bel­gium is 6%. The Nether­lands has about 2,000 phar­ma­cies; mul­ti­ple own­er­ship was legal­ised in 1987. Since 1999, non-pharmacists have been able to own phar­ma­cies and employ phar­ma­cists to super­vise them, and 32% of com­mu­nity phar­ma­cies are con­sid­ered part of a phar­macy chain, with own­ers being mainly whole­sale com­pa­nies.

In the Nether­lands, Mediq is a large chain with 13% of the mar­ket share; the next largest shares are con­trolled by the Benu and Alliance Health­care phar­ma­cies. By con­trast, Bel­gium is home to about 5,200 phar­ma­cies, with inde­pen­dent phar­ma­cies rep­re­sent­ing 85% of the market share and chain phar­ma­cies rep­re­sent­ing 15%. In Bel­gium, phar­ma­cies can also be owned by phar­ma­cists, non-pharmacists, part­ner­ships and com­pa­nies.