Amendments to Pharmaceutical Law

In April, amendments to different articles of the Pharmacies Law have been decided by the Austrian Parliament:

Article 10 had to be changed due to a decision of the European Court in 2014 (Sokoll-Seebacher) about the requirements necessary to get a licence for a new pharmacy. The EC criticized one of these requirements, which stated that more than 5500 persons to provide for should remain to the already existing pharmacies, without considering the situation for patients in rural and remote areas. By the amendment, this number may be inferior, if a new pharmacy is necessary in such regions.
The changes of Article 29 concern the requirements for dispensing doctors to get a licence for a dispensary, especially the distance to the next community pharmacy. Already in 1984 the law fixed this distance at 6 km for a new dispensary, but at 4 km for the successor of a dispensing doctor.  In 2006, this was changed to 6 km for any dispensary, only those already open could stay until the doctor retired.
This part of the law was vehemently contested by the doctors. After 10 years of discussion and because doctors argued, that without dispensary they could not survive in rural regions, finally the Parliament decided to change this article again and went back to the 4 km for the successor of a dispensing doctor.

ELGA (Electronic Health Act)

ELGA, established by law in 2013, has started to work in some hospitals at the end of 2015. In April 2016, in the region Deutschlandsberg in the southern part of Styria, the first 8 pharmacies, the physicians and the local hospital will start a pilot project for some months, before the other regions of Styria (2016) and then the other Austrian Bundesländer will be involved (2017) with all pharmacies, all physicians and all the hospitals.

By means of ELGA, every physician may look at the whole medication of his patient, even if prescribed in hospital or by colleagues and also have access to diagnosis and laboratory data. They should have a look on interactions and double prescriptions. Pharmacists will see only the last prescriptions and have to add those OTC medicaments out of a list, which are suspected of interactions with prescription only medicaments. They are not supposed to use ELGA for medication reviews and can see the whole medication only if the patient allows them to do so.

The data themselves belong to the patient; he may opt out of ELGA totally or for certain prescriptions or diagnosis.

More employee pharmacists – and more unemployed pharmacists:

Although the number of employee pharmacists is still increasing, we have also an increasing number of unemployed pharmacists. Until spring 2013 Austria was looking for pharmacists and employer in pharmacies far from the big cities had difficulties to find enough employee pharmacists. Since then, the situation has changed as a result of lower turnovers in the pharmacies and at the same time more young pharmacists leaving university.

At the end of December 2015 3900 employee pharmacists worked in Austrian pharmacies and about 150 were unemployed and looking for employment.

258 young pharmacists – practicants did their practical year, but some 70 more did not find a pharmacy to start this last part of their formation.

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