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Showdown in Luxembourg: BGH suspends proceedings and asks ECJ for an opinion on …

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Showdown in Luxembourg: BGH suspends proceedings and asks ECJ for an opinion on …

13.07.2023 – 15:50

North Rhine Chamber of Pharmacists

Düsseldorf/Karlsruhe (ots)

An important court case is being extended. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) had actually expected the final clarification on the matter of damages from a foreign mail-order pharmacy against the North Rhine Chamber of Pharmacists today. Unsurprisingly, the Karlsruhe judges of the 1st civil senate suspended the proceedings and are now asking the supreme judicial body of the European Union, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, to answer three key questions for a preliminary ruling.

The dispute over possible claims for damages by a foreign mail-order pharmacy has still not been settled. The underlying disputes are more than ten years old – even if the dispute over the admissibility of such and similar advertising campaigns lasts to this day. In 2012, the national legislature confirmed that foreign mail-order pharmacies must also adhere to the price maintenance for prescription drugs. Foreign mail-order pharmacies nevertheless violated these requirements with sweepstakes and bonuses. The North Rhine Chamber of Pharmacists took action against this – and applied for injunctions. In 2016, the ECJ found that the application of German price maintenance to mail-order pharmacies from other EU countries violated the free movement of goods. A single foreign mail-order pharmacy then claimed losses of EUR 18 million and was defeated by the Düsseldorf Regional Court in 2019. The procedure is now pending revision; which is now “going into overtime”. The written justification for the decision is not yet available.

The open questions, for which the 1st civil senate of the BGH is asking for clarification, are first of all about whether EU law sets requirements for the advertising of a pharmacy for the entire range of prescription drugs. It is also unclear whether, in the event of such requirements, foreign mail-order pharmacies may be prohibited by EU law from advertising with vouchers or discounts for prescription drugs, as is largely provided for by German law.

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“A lot of time has passed since the decision of the ECJ in 2016, in which the validity of German price maintenance for foreign mail order companies for prescription drugs was declared to be contrary to European law,” explains the President of the North Rhine Chamber of Pharmacists, Dr. Armin Hoffmann. “The recent decisions from Luxembourg give an idea that the protection and the best possible care for the citizens of the EU are of the utmost importance for the court and that the profit intentions of large corporations – which work very differently to most pharmacies in the EU – take precedence. The needs of the economy must be in line with the demands of the people in the EU for reliable, comprehensive and high-quality healthcare. That is why we look to Luxembourg with confidence.”

“The free movement of goods is of course an important achievement in the EU,” adds Dr. Bettina Mecking, Managing Director and Legal Counsel of the North Rhine Chamber of Pharmacists, “However, pharmaceuticals are very special goods. The established supply by local pharmacies is therefore also of particular importance. The ECJ has repeatedly pointed out these special features in its judgments. The advertising of foreign We had and still have an eye on senders and consistently investigate violations. Our arguments were and are sound – also and especially against the background of the most recent judgments of the ECJ. We therefore trust that the Luxembourg judges will also listen to them.”

About us: North Rhine Chamber of Pharmacists

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The North Rhine Chamber of Pharmacists (AKNR) is a corporation under public law and is responsible for the professional self-government of pharmacists who work or live in the administrative districts of Cologne and Düsseldorf. It represents the interests of more than 11,800 chamber members who work in public pharmacies, hospitals, science, industry and administration or in the German armed forces. The on-site pharmacy takes on a sovereign task: providing people with medicines and medical aids close to where they live, 365 days a year, around the clock, safely and supported by the medical profession.

Press contact:

Jens A. Krömer
Head of Press and Public Relations

North Rhine Chamber of Pharmacists
Poststr. 4
40213 Düsseldorf
Tel: 0211 8388119
Fax: 0211 8388299

Original content from: Apothekerkammer Nordrhein, transmitted by news aktuell

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