Heerlen (dpa) - The online mail order company DocMorris threatened with a lawsuit, should be planned by the federal government pharmacy reform in its present form law.

"We would exhaust all our legal possibilities," said DocMorris boss Olaf Heinrich dpa. In his view, the bill violates European law. "The Federal Government would thus experience a similar disaster as with the car toll." However, Heinrich expects anyway that the Federal Government awaits the evaluation by the European Commission and then redirects: "The law will not come, because it is obvious that it is against European law. »

In mid-July, the Federal Cabinet introduced a package of laws aimed at better protecting and strengthening local pharmacies against competition on the Internet. What the industry association ABDA welcomes: Patients are thus protected against discrimination.

According to the plan, pharmacies from other EU countries are no longer allowed to offer discounts for prescription drugs, but they have to stick to fixed prices. This would be a setback for DocMorris, which has previously granted its customers in Germany a bonus of 2.50 euros per drug on the prescription. A similarly business model has the "shop pharmacy", also based in the Netherlands.

DocMorris is part of the Swiss retailer Zur Rose. The subsidiary is located in Heerlen in the Netherlands, just behind the border near Aachen. With around 600 employees, the company is on a growth path. In 2017, it generated sales of 370 million euros, 39 million euros more than a year earlier. Since 2018, no more company figures are communicated, since then DocMorris flows into the German business of Zur Rose. Zur Rose's German sales in 2018 were 671 million euros, just under 39 percent higher than in the previous year, with DocMorris accounting for the largest share.

In 2016, the company benefited from a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which overturned the price maintenance of prescription drugs - known in the industry as Rx preparations - for cross-border goods traffic in the EU. However, the ECJ referred to pharmaceutical legislation.

However, the Federal Ministry of Health now plans to postpone "Rx medicines" for insured persons of the statutory health insurance funds into social legislation, where - according to the ministry's interpretation - a national regulation is possible despite the ECJ ruling. This holds DocMorris boss Heinrich for a "sleight of hand trick".

As a result of the change in the law, DocMorris will no longer offer any insured persons - and thus about 90 percent of all insured persons in Germany - "Rx supplements". The sale of "Rx supplements" - such as cholesterol-lowering drugs - is important for DocMorris, accounting for nearly two-thirds of its sales in 2017. However, according to the ECJ, the recipe bonuses are necessary in order to be able to compensate for the competitive disadvantage - the distance to the customer - compared to stationary competitors. With the change in the law, the Federal Ministry of Health wants to build a "protective wall" for German pharmacists, which would hinder more competition, says Heinrich.

Despite the anger about the proposed legislation, the manager assesses the prospects positively. Although DocMorris will not continue to operate its own pharmacies in Germany in future - this is only possible for pharmacists and not for corporations. However, the Dutch company is aiming for close cooperation with local pharmacists. Here DocMorris would offer an Internet platform on which local pharmacists could stop their own offers.

According to Heinrich, online commerce and inpatient pharmacists would have to be more closely networked. In the future, patients should be able to order medication online and then determine in which inpatient pharmacy they want to take the drug on the same day or whether they want to receive it via the shipping route. In addition, such a platform could provide pharmacists more data than before.

DocMorris is a red cloth for many pharmacists. You are very critical of the work of the online competitor. Asked whether any partners in the German pharmacy community would even sign up for the cooperation, Heinrich said: "The willingness is there. The industry is clear that it is facing great challenges in the wake of digitization and changing customer habits. "

Bill Federal Government July 2019