Republic of Croatia is a young Central European country covering an area of 56,542 square km and with 4,440,000 inhabitants. Croatia achieved full sovereignty in 1991 and then the pharmacy privatization process commenced.

Today there are 1174 community pharmacies in Croatia, of which 207 pharmacies are state owned (owned by counties), 636 pharmacies operate in private chains (owned by pharmacists, physical persons of other profiles, or companies), 232 pharmacies are owned by one pharmacist or a group of pharmacists, there are 23 depot pharmacies, 50 hospital pharmacies and 26 pharmacies within health centres. There are on average  2-6 pharmacists working in a pharmacy, and a pharmacy generally serves 4170 inhabitants.

Total number of registered pharmacists in August 2016 was 3545, of which 92 % were women.  Community pharmacies employ 2643 pharmacists.

The pharmacy network of Croatia is established according to geographic and demographic criteria. Minimum distance between pharmacies in cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants is 200 m; minimum distance between pharmacies in cities with 100,000-500,000 inhabitants must be 300 m, and in cities with under 100,000 inhabitants pharmacies must be 500 m apart.

The demographic criterion for opening pharmacies stipulates that one pharmacy should serve 3000 insured persons, and each further pharmacy 5000 insured persons.

The owner of an independent private pharmacy must be a pharmacist, whereas a pharmacy institution (2 or more pharmacies) may be owned by any legal or physical person.

Pharmacy can be studied at two faculties in Croatia – in Zagreb (max. 150 students admitted) and in Split (max. 30 students). To work as a pharmacist after completion of studies (until the Bologna program is fully implemented), mandatory one-year internship must be done in a pharmacy, which is followed by a state exam taken at the Ministry of Health to get a licence. The licence lasts 6 years, during which period the pharmacist must attend further education courses to collect enough points (30) for licence renewal. Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists evaluates pharmacist education and renews licences. Continuing education courses are mainly organized by the Croatian Pharmaceutical Society­, Faculty of Pharmacy and the Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists through courses, seminars, workshops, e-courses, professional and scientific gatherings.

Upon completion of pharmacy studies, specialization is available in the fields of drug testing and control, pharmaceutical technology, clinical pharmacy -hospital pharmacy and clinical pharmacy – community pharmacy, and toxicology.

The pharmacy team (obligatory present in the pharmacy during working hours) is made up of a graduate pharmacist (five-year course of studies) and a pharmacy technician (completed 4-year technical school). Pharmacy technicians also have a one-year internship and must pass the state exam. Technicians are allowed to dispense only non-prescription medications and OTC products. Continuing education is still not compulsory for technicians but it will be introduced in the near future.

In community pharmacies, the pharmacist is responsible for provision of drugs, their professional dispensing, making and control of galenic and extemporaneous preparations. It is also the pharmacist’s duty to report side effects, advise and educate patients about drug use.

Only pharmacists are authorized to dispense prescription drugs for human use (veterinary drugs are not dispensed in pharmacies). In Croatian primary health care and in all pharmacies, e-prescriptions were introduced on 1 January 2011 for all medications remunerated by the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance. This has greatly enhanced the safety and quality of health services. Online sales of drugs are not allowed in Croatia.

Non-prescription and herbal remedies, which must have a special approval (issued by the Agency for Medical Devices and Medicinal Products), vitamin-mineral preparations and dietary supplements can be also purchased at drugstores, supermarkets and similar stores.

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