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Pharmacists react against expansion of medications sold at convenience storesTop 10 pharmaceutical stories in 2017 ⑦
  • By Korea Biomedical Review
  • Published 2017.12.29 10:28
  • Updated 2017.12.30 10:19
  • comments 0

The Korean pharmaceutical industry continued to grow this year, with the market size exceeding a historical 20 trillion won ($18.5 billion) landmark. Global success stories of Celltrion and Samsung Bioepis are ongoing news, and more Korean pharmaceuticals are entering the U.S. market. Kolon Life Science released the new, domestically-developed drug Invossa and other Korean pharmaceutical firms followed suit. Illegal rebates remained a current problem while patients expressed outrage against high drug prices. The government unveiled policies that slashed drug costs to regulate prices, keeping pharmaceuticals on their feet. The following are the 10 biggest pharmaceutical stories in 2017 – Ed.

The government’s decision to expand the range of non-prescription drugs at convenience stores received a severe backlash from the pharmacist community. The expansion is the first time in five years since the government gave the green light for the sales of 13 over-the-counter drugs, such as Tylenol, Pancol A, and Festal, to convenience stores that completed specific training courses, in 2012.

This year, the government launched a committee to deliberate on the designation of safe, permanent store drugs to review the status quo of OTC drugs sold at convenience stores and reflect consumers' opinions on the policy.

The panel decided to add Gelfos, a gastric antiacid treatment, and Smecta, an antidiarrhoeic treatment, to the list in its fifth session, after reviewing their safety and considering overseas examples.

However, the vote fell through as Kang Bong-yoon, the policy head for the Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) and one of the voters for the committee, tried to injure himself on the day of the vote.

Subsequently, the KPA held a rally in front of Cheong Wa Dae on Dec. 18, arguing that expanding the scope of non-prescription medications sold at convenience stores will increase the side effects and abuse of drugs. The association also boycotted the committee.

However, there are criticisms that the main reason for pharmacists opposing the decision is their concerns about declining sales.

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