In this file devoted to opening or taking over a pharmacy, Ant Dipslay Limited provides you with the preliminary information to know about the exercise of this activity. Pharmacies have a certain future, given the increase in medical treatment and the aging of the population, and their monopoly in distributing drugs. In practice, the creation of a pharmacy is a project that works well in general: 90% of companies are still active after five years of operation (against 80% during a takeover).

Requirements for opening or taking over a pharmacy

First of all, to open or take over a pharmacy, you must have a state diploma in pharmacy. In addition, a professional experience of at least 6 months is necessary. The opening of a pharmacy is subject to the issuance of a license by the ARS. This procedure contains 2 steps:

· Prior notice: a prior request must be made to this form, which will then send it to the prefect, national order of pharmacists, and the pharmacists' unions for advice. The latter will have 2 months to respond, and in the absence of a response, their opinion is deemed favorable.

· ARS decision: the ARS must render its decision within 4 months of the request registration. If there is no response, the request is this time rejected.

The ARS has the option of imposing a minimum distance from the nearest pharmacy. Particular deadlines are provided for in this case. Finally, to operate a pharmacy, you must also make a declaration to the regional council of the order of pharmacists.

pharmacy interior design

Conditions for establishing a pharmacy

The authorization to set up a pharmacy in a municipality depends on the number of inhabitants. It is possible to open or transfer a pharmacy only in cities with more than 2,500 inhabitants.

However, a pharmacy may exceptionally be established in a municipality of fewer than 2,500 inhabitants when it previously had a pharmacy serving more than 2,500 inhabitants.

If a municipality already has a pharmacy, the latter must have at least 7,000 inhabitants to accommodate a second pharmacy.

If it already has two, it needs at least 11,500 inhabitants. The establishment of a new pharmacy is authorized per section of 4,500 inhabitants (beyond the 1st by which the threshold is set at 2,500 inhabitants).

Conditions for exercising the activity of pharmacist

Pharmacists hold a monopoly on drug delivery.

A pharmacist who practices in his name must be the owner of the pharmacy dispensary of which he is the holder. A pharmacist can only be the owner or co-owner of one pharmacy.

When a pharmacist owns a pharmacy alone, he can operate it in his own name, in EIRL, in EURL, or the form of a one-person self-employed company. Then, several associate pharmacists have the possibility of working together and of constituting a company to operate a pharmacy: it will necessarily be an LLC, an SNC, or a multi-person liberal practice company.

Pharmacy dispensaries operated as a company may, under certain conditions, include non-exercising minority shareholders or "investors" who may be former partners (for 10 years) or beneficiaries (for 5 years), to the exclusion of any other health professional. In an SEL, each holder who exercises must keep at least 5% of the capital directly.

The pharmacist holding a pharmacy must personally practice his profession, and he is prohibited from practicing any other job.

Finally, the exercise of the pharmaceutical activity is regulated by the Public Health Code:

  • from an internal point of view (conditions relating to the exercise of the activity within the pharmacy),
  • and from an external point of view (external visibility of the pharmacy).

pharmacy store fixtures

Investments to plan to open or take over a pharmacy

If you want to take over a pharmacy, the selling price is generally between 80% and 120% of the annual turnover, including VAT. The location and the quality of the premises play an essential role in the assessment. If you want to open your pharmacy, the direct investments will concern:

  • the repurchase of the possible right to the lease or the acquisition of a premises,
  • the layout of the premises,
  • pharmacy furniture to store medicines and other products,
  • sales counters and cash registers,
  • computer equipment.

Charges to be expected for the forecast of a pharmacy

The main expense items to budget for the forecast of a pharmacy are:

  • commercial rent,
  • personnel costs,
  • the financing of the drug stock,
  • liability insurance and stock of goods,
  • the fees of the chartered accountant,
  • the contribution to the order of pharmacies,
  • pharmacy counters and display shelvings
  • maintenance of the premises,
  • advertising signs and other communication media visible from the outside,
  • electricity expenses.

Indicators to follow for a pharmacy

To manage a pharmacy, the entrepreneur must monitor the following indicators:

  • the margin rate: in this sector of activity, it is on average between 25 and 30%,
  • the turnover generated compared to previous periods,
  • turnover per employee, on average equal to 240,000 euros.

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Tax specificities of pharmacies

VAT rates

The main tax characteristic of a pharmacy concerns VAT. Indeed, you will have to split your sales using several VAT rates: 20%, 10%, and 2.1%.

  • The 2.1% rate applies: to drugs likely to be covered by social security, to drugs subject to temporary authorization, and to blood products (as well as, where applicable, any transmission fees).
  • The 10% rate applies: to drugs not covered by social security, to drugs that do not obtain temporary authorization, to male condoms that comply with AFNOR standards, and to kits for preventing contamination by viruses of the AIDS and hepatitis.
  • The 20% rate applies: to veterinary drugs, packaging, or drug admission items (capsules, syringes, ampoules, etc.)
  • Packaging or drug admission items may bear a reduced VAT rate of 10% or 2.1% when they contain a drug for human use.

Taxation of profits

The profits made by a pharmacy come under the category of BIC (Industrial and Commercial Benefits).

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Social specificities of pharmacies

The legislation of the pharmaceutical activity is highly regulated, and this also applies to the level of labor law, where the collective agreement provides for many specificities. For more information, you can refer to the pharmacy's cooperative agreement. 

Conclusion: Opening or taking over a pharmacy is a delicate project because it is a highly regulated activity. In addition, there are legal and tax provisions specific to the opening of a pharmacy. So do not hesitate to be accompanied or to seek advice from the order of pharmacists.