How to properly transfer a pharmacy license

Scheme for transferring a pharmacy license
Piotr Kłodziński|
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Transferring a license to operate a pharmacy is a process that requires great precision in view of the very stringent requirements of the Pharmaceutical Law. From legal conditions, through preparation of documentation, to consequences for the new owner - every step is important. Find out how to take over a pharmacy efficiently and legally, avoiding violations and delays. If you have any doubts, we will be happy to help you as lawyers specializing in pharmaceutical law, within our framework Pharmaceutical Law Office, we will guide you through the entire procedure. Regardless of which part of Poland you are from - we operate throughout the country and have practical experience with all WIFs. 

The most important information

  • Transfer of the pharmacy license with very few exceptions, as a consequence of AdA 2.0. i.e. another amendment to the Act, pharmaceutical law is limited to professional pharmacists with the right to practice the profession, subject to certain conditions and criteria.

  • An application for the transfer of a license requires a set of specific information and documents, as well as the payment of an administrative fee, which is necessary to start the process at the appropriate pharmaceutical inspectorate (commonly WIF).

  • After a well-conducted transfer of the permit, the new owner of the pharmacy takes over all rights and obligations related to running the business, maintaining the continuity of patient care to the highest possible extent, but must comply with his obligations under pharmaceutical law.

Key provisions regarding the transfer of a pharmacy license

Scheme for transferring a pharmacy license

Transferring a pharmacy license is a process that requires meeting certain criteria. Firstly, the person taking over the pharmacy must be a professional pharmacist with the right to practice the profession. This means that only a person with appropriate qualifications has the right to open and run such a business. This is one of the key restrictions introduced by recent changes to the Pharmaceutical Law.

Secondly, the person taking over the pharmacy must, among other things, meet the following conditions:

  1. Run a sole proprietorship or own a company operating exclusively in the pharmaceutical sector.

  2. It may be a general partnership or a partnership in which all partners are pharmacists.

  3. Alternatively, it may be a university - training future pharmacists

  4. He can't be a doctor

  5. Cannot own more than 3 other pharmacies

  6. They also have the right to the premises in which they want to run their business.

The authorization will not be transferred if the acquiring entity - most often the buyer - has had its license to operate a pharmacy or to produce or import medicinal products withdrawn in the last few years before submitting the application, or has been removed from the National Register of Intermediaries in the Trade of Medicinal Products. The new law unfortunately excludes (in our opinion, not entirely in accordance with the law) the general consequences of the legal authorization to operate a pharmacy in the event of a division, merger or transformation of companies holding such a permit.

Knowledge of these legal provisions, within the meaning of the Pharmaceutical Law Act, as well as a number of detailed regulations, is necessary for the proper conduct of the process of transferring the license to operate a pharmacy. Ignorance of the regulations and principles of proper operation, both regarding the transfer of the permit and the subsequent operation of the pharmacy, may expose you to high financial penalties and, in very extreme cases, even lead to imprisonment. Therefore, it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer specializing in pharmaceutical law before starting this process.

Before purchasing it, it is worth deciding on the valuation of the pharmacy or its audit, including examining its debt. Because the buyer may also be responsible for them and these cases are no longer so rare. We help in all this by representing buyers and sellers of pharmacies. Do you want to sell your pharmacy to a pharmacist? We invite you - as pharmaceutical law lawyers, we handle such cases from A to Z on a daily basis. Another pillar of our law firm's activity, apart from knowledge of the pharmaceutical law, is also specialization in the field of pharmaceutical law lease agreements for commercial premises, therefore, as part of the legal services provided for the sale of a pharmacy or a similar transaction, we will also prepare a lease agreement or its assignment, so that the lease is taken over by the new entity as seamlessly as possible. And, of course, we serve entities from all over Poland on a daily basis. 

Procedure for submitting an application for the transfer of a permit

To initiate the process of transferring a pharmacy license, it is necessary to submit an application to the appropriate provincial pharmaceutical inspectorate. An application to transfer a permit can be submitted in person, via postal services or (apparently) also electronically. But nobody practices the latter.

The application must include information such as the name of the entity, registered office and address, contact details, NIP number, PESEL number (if applicable), KRS number (if applicable). The application should also include the address of the pharmacy or pharmacy point, a description of the changes to be introduced in the permit, details of the person to whom the permit is to be transferred, details of the pharmacy, a declaration of compliance with legal requirements and information about the qualifications of the person who will manage the pharmacy.

The application must be accompanied by documents confirming the scope of changes since the permit was granted. These may be, for example:

  • sales agreement

  • company agreements

  • current extract from the National Court Register (KRS)

  • identity documents

  • marriage certificates

  • documents confirming changes in place names from the commune office.

Pharmaceutical law is not everything - the requirements of administrative law are also important, therefore the documents attached to the application should be presented in the original or as notarially certified copies.

A fee must be paid to transfer the permit. In 2022, it amounts to PLN 3,010, which is 20% of five times the minimum wage. This fee is required to cover the administrative costs of processing your application.

Minimizing pharmacy closure time during relocation

Procedure for minimizing pharmacy closing time

The process of transferring a pharmacy license may involve the need to close the pharmacy for some time. Typically, permit transfer procedures assume its closure for 30 days. However, there are methods that allow you to shorten the duration of the proceedings and the related procedure to a minimum.

As we wrote above, the waiting time for consideration of an application for the transfer of a permit is usually about one month, and usually no longer than one month, although in some situations it may be extended to two or more months. During this time, everyone loses: the seller of the pharmacy, the buyer of the pharmacy and the patients.

However, it is worth remembering that the location of the pharmacy must remain unchanged during the permit transfer process and afterwards, which is a critical condition for maintaining the validity of the business license. In short - transfer of the permit means a change of the entity running the pharmacy, not a change of its location. If you need to change the location of the pharmacy, please contact us, we are often able to help in such cases.

Legal consequences of transferring a permit

Transferring a pharmacy license is associated with certain legal consequences. After transferring the permit, the new person running the pharmacy assumes all the rights and obligations of the current operator. This means that the new manager is responsible for everything related to the pharmacy, from its management to legal and financial obligations.

Another consequence of such transactions is the takeover of employees employed in the acquired pharmacies.

Another consequence of transferring the permit is that the new owner of the pharmacy has the right to continue operating under the current name, without the need to change it. This is advantageous because the name of the pharmacy is often well known in the local community and changing the name could cause unnecessary confusion. Here, however, it is sometimes necessary to ensure appropriate transfer of copyright.

On the other hand, if you want to change the name of the pharmacy, it can usually be done in one go. Unfortunately, many WIFs then demand payment of a fee because more than one circumstance changes in the conditions of running the pharmacy for which the permit was issued. It is a matter of interpretation of the Pharmaceutical Law.

However, it is important to remember that the transfer of a pharmacy license does not relieve the new owner of the obligation to comply with all applicable laws and regulations. This means that the new owner must continue to comply with all rules, norms and standards regarding running a pharmacy. After all, since the license was transferred, it means that the new owner acquired the entire public pharmacy. The issuance of a permit for a new entity and the decision becoming final is the end of the proceedings.

Maintaining continuity of care for patients

Patient trust and continuity of care

Maintaining the highest possible level of continuity of patient care is a key element of a well-conducted process of transferring the license to operate a pharmacy. The constant availability of necessary medicinal products or medical devices in health care facilities significantly increases the use of health services by patients. Frequent drug shortages in health care settings can lead to lower trust in health care providers and decreased use of formal health care systems by patients, who may instead try to obtain the entire pharmacy on their own.

The availability of drugs and medical devices influences patients' trust in health care providers, which in turn influences their health care-seeking behavior and use of health services. Access to quality medicines is a key determinant of the provision of professional health services and influences health statistics, regardless of whether we live in a high-, middle- or low-income country.

A well-run pharmacy, in order to ensure continuity of care, the pharmacy cannot focus only on the seemingly most profitable customer segments. It is important to be open to helping all clients, including readiness to take non-standard activities, such as the production of prescription drugs, downloading or even importing medicinal products. However, analysis of sales data and wholesale turnover usually help in identifying those key segments that have the most significant impact on retail trade in medicinal products.

Prevention of pathologies in the pharmaceutical industry

There are many potential issues in the pharmaceutical industry that can impact the quality of patient care. Pharmacy chambers play an important role in preventing many negative phenomena. Sometimes, however, they, along with institutions such as ZAPPA, throw the baby out with the bathwater in an attempt to protect the interests of individual pharmacists.

Very theoretically speaking, the Supreme Chamber of Pharmacy and district pharmacy chambers act as the self-government of the pharmacist profession and are responsible for:

  • represent the professional, social and economic interests of pharmacists

  • monitor the quality of pharmaceutical services, being an important part of it

  • conduct training and professional development for pharmacists

  • support the development of pharmacy and promote public health

The activities of pharmacy chambers are generally aimed at providing patients with safe and effective pharmaceutical care, including the availability of medical devices. Therefore, they ensure compliance with pharmaceutical law regulations. And they check whether the entrepreneur who purchased the entire public pharmacy guarantees its proper operation.

The responsibilities of the pharmacy chamber include ensuring compliance with the principles of professional ethics and deontology, which is aimed at maintaining high work standards in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacy chambers maintain a register of pharmacists, which ensures transparency and facilitates supervision of qualified professionals working in the industry.

Pharmacy chambers cooperate with public administration bodies and other organizations to protect public health and the interests of the pharmacist profession. If irregularities are detected, pharmacy chambers have the right to suspend and deprive the right to practice the profession, which is a form of prevention and sanctions for irregularities in the practice of the pharmacist's profession, in accordance with the provisions of broadly understood pharmaceutical law, including the Act on the practice of the pharmacist's profession.

Summary

Transferring a license to operate a pharmacy is the result of a procedure that requires careful planning and compliance with specific regulations. These are definitely not procedures that can be carried out without proper preparation. It is crucial to understand the mechanisms of settlements with the National Health Fund and wholesalers, as well as the regulations regarding the transfer of a pharmacy license, the application submission procedure, and the legal consequences of transferring the license. This is why lawyers specializing in this matter are useful.

It is also important to understand how important it is for the future turnover of the pharmacy to maintain continuity of care for patients and the ways in which this can be achieved. Ensuring continuity of care is crucial to maintaining patient trust and their use of health services, and is also a condition for maintaining appropriate competitiveness. It is easy to lose consumers, but it is much more difficult to attract them, given that entities operating in this market cannot advertise.

We hope that this post has helped you understand how to properly transfer your pharmacy license. Remember that every situation is different and it is always worth consulting with a lawyer specializing in pharmaceutical law to ensure that the entire procedure will be conducted in accordance with the law. Some of us do not focus only on legal advice, but also provide business advice and intermediation services. To answer the question that bothers most of our clients - both in pharmacies and in the entire pharmaceutical industry, you can still earn quite decent money, but it is not worth taking unnecessary risks.

Although transactions on this market vary greatly, we have already developed effective solutions to the vast majority of legal and business problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to calculate the value of a pharmacy?

The value of the pharmacy can be calculated, among other things, based on the turnover achieved over the last 12 months, and then multiply the obtained average by various coefficients, which should be adjusted taking into account several variables. So why do we, as lawyers, also deal with pharmacy valuations? Because, considering the number of such transactions, we have the best view of the market. Thanks to our experience in such transactions, we see exactly how various factors affect the sales prices of pharmacies. Of course, if the client wants the valuation to be prepared by an authorized person, we also cooperate with such persons.

Can a pharmacy technician run a pharmacy?

Currently, a pharmacy technician cannot, in principle, set up or take over a pharmacy. Of course, with temporary exceptions regarding inheritance.

How to donate a pharmacy?

A pharmacy can be transferred in many different ways, including sale, exchange, contribution to a company or donation, and, of course, inheritance. In addition to providing a warranty, the buyer must, among other things, submit a written declaration that he accepts all the conditions of the permit to operate a pharmacy. This is what the law states.

How many pharmacies can one owner have?

One owner may have up to four pharmacies throughout the country, in accordance with applicable pharmaceutical law. The Act also states that this does not apply to existing chains with five or more branches. However, they cannot acquire new entities either. 

Can you open a pharmacy without being a pharmacist?

No, in accordance with the provisions of pharmaceutical law, the procedure for issuing a license to operate a pharmacy can only be successfully conducted by a pharmacist with appropriate education and the right to practice the profession or by an entity that is a company of such pharmacists. In turn, the procedure of opening a pharmacy is also quite expensive and limited by demographic and geographical criteria.

 

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