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Pharmacy ownership

Most pharmacies are owned by pharmacy chains

In total, the international pharmacy companies own 84 per cent of all the pharmacies in Norway.


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Three large international pharmacy companies, each vertically integrated with a pharmaceutical wholesaler, own three pharmacy chains in Norway. 

The three main chains are called Apotek 1, Boots apotek and Vitusapotek. 

Pharmacy chain        




Alliance Healthcare Norge AS   

 Cencora (USA)



 McKesson Corporation (USA)      

Apotek 1

Apotek 1 Gruppen AS

 Phoenix (Germany)

(figure 1: Pharmacy ownership)

The Norwegian Pharmacy Act defines a pharmacy as a physically accessible place for drug sale to end-users where drug-related guidance is provided.

Pharmacies ensures safe deliveries of drugs to end users and contributes to the correct drug use in the population.

Norwegian pharmacies are mainly run as private enterprises. Only the hospital pharmacies are owned by the public sector (Regional Health Authorities). 

Community pharmacy is a pharmacy where dispensing of medicines happens under the supervision of a pharmacist.

Hospital pharmacy is a pharmacy co-located with a public or private hospital and where drug supply to the hospital is the main task. 

Internet pharmacy can operate in Norway  if they are part of a physical pharmacy. 

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.

Today the Norwegian pharmacy sector is recognized by: 

  • Free establishment of pharmacies – no establishment criteria
  • Free ownership of pharmacies – except pharmaceutical manufacturers and doctors
  • Pharmacy managers must hold a master’s degree in pharmacy
  • No limit of the number of pharmacies that can be owned by one pharmacy owner – horizontally integrated pharmacy chains are allowed
  • Vertical integration between wholesalers and pharmacies/ pharmacy chains is allowed





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