Guidance on Collective Action in the Community Pharmacy Sector
In 2009 the Competition Authority (predecessor of the CCPC) published its Notice in Respect of Collective Action in the Community Pharmacy Sector. The Notice provides guidance on the application of Irish and European competition law to collective action by community pharmacy contractors, and other health professionals, when engaging with the Health Services Executive (HSE).
In particular, it clarifies the limits competition law places on co-ordinated action by self-employed health professionals in relation to key competitive factors such as fees. The Notice also takes account of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 and the decision of the Minister for Health and Children to alter remuneration of pharmacy contractors under this legislation from 1 July 2009.
In October 2008, the Authority conducted a public consultation on Collective Action in the Community Pharmacy Sector, seeking input on ways in which health professionals, providing services for or on behalf of the State, might engage collectively with the HSE in compliance with competition law. The consultation concluded on 28 November 2008. Four substantive submissions were received in response – from the HSE, the Irish Pharmacy Union, the Pharmaceutical Distributors Federation and the Association of Optometrists Ireland.
Output from consultation
Following conclusion of the consultation and assessment of the submissions received, the Authority published this Notice, pursuant to section 30(1)(d) of the Competition Act 2002.
This provision makes it a statutory function of the Authority to publish notices containing practical guidance as to how to comply with the provisions of Irish competition law. Notices set out the considered views of the Authority relating to a particular area of competition law, and are provided for guidance purposes only. It is ultimately a matter for the courts to decide whether or not a breach of the competition law has occurred.
Please read our Guidance Notice on Community Pharmacy for further detail on collective action by community pharmacy contractors, and other health professionals.
Is there more detail on this topic?
Trade associations can play a productive, pro-competitive role in the development of a sector, promoting the efficient functioning of the market. However, we in the CCPC have often encountered situations where trade associations have been used to restrict competition. This has occurred where a trade association either co-ordinates anti-competitive activities, or provides competitors with the opportunity to meet and form anti-competitive agreements.
Please read our Guidance Note on Trade Associations for further detail on this topic.
However, if you have read the guidance and still have concerns about a particular agreement or other forms of co-ordinated activity you can contact us.
Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009
Section 30(1)(d) of the Competition Act 2002
Section 4 of the Competition Act 2002
Article 101 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EUReturn to Guidelines for Business