More about pharmacy in norway

Norwegian pharmacies are mainly run as private enterprises. Only the hospital pharmacies are owned by the public sector. In spite of this, the pharmacies are considered part of the Norwegian health service.

The pharmacies have approx. 6500 employees, the vast majority of whom are trained healthcare professionals. The fact that the trade involves both retailing and providing healthcare services creates unique challenges both for the trade itself and for the authorities.

New legislation in 2001

On 1 March 2001 the Norwegian government introduced new legislation, which led to greater changes to the trade than had previously been seen in the whole of its 400-year history. The biggest change was to how pharmacies are owned. Prior to 1 March 2001, all pharmacies were owned by trained pharmacists.

Since 1 March 2001, an increasing proportion of pharmacies have been taken over by chains. The biggest pharmacy chains are called Apotek 1, Boots apotek, Vitusapotek and Ditt apotek. To manage a pharmacy, you still need the appropriate professional training.

Three large international pharmacy chains, each vertically integrated with a pharmaceutical wholesaler, own approximately 84 per cent of the pharmacies in Norway. The three pharmacy chains are linked to pharmaceutical wholesalers and international owners:

  • Pharmacy chain Wholesaler Owner
  • Boots apotek Alliance Healthcare Norge AS Alliance Boots Limited (English)
  • Vitusapotek NMD Grossisthandel Celesio AG (German)
  • Apotek 1 Apokjeden Distrubisjon AS Tampro Oy (Finish)/Phoenix (German) 

As a result of the changes in the Pharmacy Act in 2001, the general public has considerably better accessibility to pharmacies, as the number of pharmacies has increased from 399 in February 2001 to a total of 861 as of November 2016.

There were on average approx. 6,386 inhabitants per pharmacy as of 1. January 2015. At the end of 2000, the average number of inhabitants per pharmacy was 11,280.


Apotek 1: 343
Vitusapotek: 233
Boots apotek: 158
Ditt apotek: 74
Hospital pharm: 32
Independent: 21

Totalt: 861
Updated 02. November 2016


Most pharmacy staff are trained healthcare professionals. Pharmacy managers, pharmacists and prescriptionists all share the general title of pharmacist. They are entitled to independently dispense prescribed medications, and are highly qualified to advise customers and other healthcare personnel on the correct use of medications.

Pharmacy technicians make up the majority of the employees at pharmacies. They are not entitled to dispense prescribed medications, but they have an important role to play in terms of customer service – speaking to customers, providing information to the public, looking after stock and administrative tasks.

The pharmacy manager runs the pharmacy, and will have taken a five-year university course. Up until the present time, they have taken a Cand. Pharm. degree, but with the introduction of the new degree structure at Norwegian universities, the degree is now called Master of Pharmacy.


Someone who has taken a five-year university course in the subject, but does not manage a pharmacy.


To become a prescriptionist, you need to take a three-year university college course. With the introduction of the new degree structure, the degree will be called Bachelor of Pharmacy.

Pharmacy technician

The training for pharmacy technicians is a sixth-form college course within health and social sciences.

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