OK, Farmacity is not dead. But it may very soon be a part of Argentina’s gilded history of late-night candy and unnecessary medication.
A resolution passed by the Health Ministry a few days ago and published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday indicates that, after late January, pharmacies in the country will only be allowed to sell medication and personal hygiene products. Official Resolution 1632 bans pharmacies from selling food products, candy (known as “producto de kiosko“) and other goods unrelated to the pharmaceutical industry. The resolution also adds several goods to the list of products that can only be sold in a pharmacy.
And the company most affected by the Government’s measure is obviously Farmacity, the Argentine version of White Castle and a hot spot for those of us who have the munchies at two in the morning and need to appease that craving by ringing the buzzer and asking for three Bon-o-Bon and a Cofler chocolate bar. Oh and also some aspirin. Besides selling all kinds of candy and assorted snacks, Farmacity also sells movies, books and CD’s. All of which is now banned. And I don’t care that you can get all of that on your iPad. The fact that we’re being stripped of our basic right to rummage through a $3.99 CD bin is an outrage.
From now on, Pharmacies are only allowed to “take prescriptions, dispense medication – both prescription and over-the-counter – and selling products related to personal hygiene, insecticides and prophylaxis” (meaning condoms). Pharmacies have ninety days to comply with the law and restructure their businesses. Products such as disposable needles, syringes, sample cups and eye patches will be sold exclusively in pharmacies.
There are 198 Farmacity stores in the country and the company represents a 30 percent of the market share. The resolution represents a severe blow to the company. Sources from Farmacity told La Nacion that they are “closely analyzing the resolution,” which they say is “clearly in defense of commercial interests and has nothing to do with health care.”
However, the Argentine Pharmaceutical Confederation (COFA) begs to differ, and celebrated the decision because “they oppose pharmacies that look like a shopping mall.” And you know who also celebrated? The kioskeros, since this is considered to be reciprocal to a 2009 ban on kioskos from selling over-the-counter medication. For now, it seems, balance has been restored.
Medication in pharmacies, candy in the kioskos.
All’s well in the world.