Liberalisation of the pharmacy monopoly: A hard pill to swollow

Birgitte Lund Rants

Student thesis: Master thesis


Although economic liberalisation such as privatisation, open markets and deregulation has increasingly become an integrated part of Danish politics, the Danish pharmacy sector has not been subject to any radical neoliberal reforms. Even though several initiatives have been proposed to liberalise the pharmacy sector, policy stability rather than policy change seems to rule. This dissertation explores why the Danish pharmacy monopoly is still maintained, and under which conditions the pharmacy monopoly is most likely to fall. Through first-­‐hand interviews with key stakeholders in the pharmacy sector, this study examines how diverging interests and competing advocacy coalitions have caused almost a complete policy standstill. Taking departure in a case study of the Uldum pharmacist’s collaboration with the retail chain, Matas, the analysis uncovers how certain actors seek to exclude competition and how only very few dare to challenge the current pharmacy monopoly. Although the Principal-­‐Agent (PA) Theory is deemed useful to understand the relationship between the health authorities and the pharmacies, the case study reveals how core theoretical assumptions made by the PA theory fails to explain all the dynamics at play in the Danish pharmacy sector. Instead, the Advocacy Coalition Framework is turned to in order to examine what causes policy change and furthermore what policy core beliefs the different advocacy coalition groups are structured around. Finally, the thesis discovers why only minor policy change has been introduced and concludes that various conditions are still lacking before liberalisation is likely to truly be considered politically in the future. This thesis does not aim to decide whether a liberalisation of the pharmacy monopoly is beneficial or not, but is meant to give insights about the dynamics at play in the Danish pharmacy sector to provide the readers with a solid foundation to decide for themselves.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages139