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Anjum Shabbir
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30th January 2020
Consumer, Health & Environment Internal Market

Advocate General: Pharmacists cannot be banned from receiving free samples of medicinal products

In an Opinion in the case ratiopharm v Novartis Consumer Health (C‑786/18) issued today, Advocate General Pitruzzella deals with the issue of free samples of medicinal products to pharmacists and the cases in which Member States may authorise them.

In sum, the Advocate General argues that Directive 2001/83, on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use, does not preclude pharmaceutical companies from distributing free samples, under the conditions laid down in Article 96(1) of the said Directive, and as long as they are distributed only to persons qualified to prescribe them.

According to the Advocate General, ‘excluding pharmacists from the specific form of advertising represented by the free distribution of samples of medicinal products, following a balancing exercise by the EU legislature, does not mean that pharmacists are excluded from all forms of advertising or deprive them of any information that may be provided at the same time as a given advertising measure that is simply in a different form from the free distribution of samples’.

The case stems from a preliminary reference made by the German Bundesgerichtshof, in the context litigation between ratiopharm and Novartis Consumer Health.

Read the full text of the Opinion here.

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