After 5-Shekel Coffee, 10-Shekel Pharmacies This August

YERUSHALAYIM -
Pharmacy. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Pharmacy. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

The “Cofix of pharmacies” is set to land in Israel in August. A new chain plans to open dozens of pharmacies that will operate 24 hours a day, and offer pharmacy items, including off the shelf medicine, cosmetics, candies, household items and sundries for NIS 10 ($2.89) each.

The chain has yet to pick a name for itself, but the stores will be small, up to 120 square meters in size. It is seen as taking on the Super-Pharm chain, Israel’s largest pharmacy chain, which has hundreds of stores of an average 500 square meters each throughout the country.

While the notion sounds unworkable in Israel, where prices tend to be high, the entry of the Cofix chain to the café market has broken down that stereotype. Cofix sells a wide variety of food and snack items for no more than NIS 5 each, and in recent months has opened grocery stores where it offers many items such as bread, spreads, canned goods, and much more for the same price. The Cofix “revolution” has inspired imitations such as the Pizza-Fix and Burger-Fix chains, where a whole pizza pie or fully loaded burger is available for a flat NIS 15.

Super-Pharm itself often runs sale where many of its products, including shampoo, deodorant, and much more is offered for NIS 10.

The project is the brainstorm of Adam Friedler, 29, who raised money to fund the project from the Gruss family, who established the Rite-Aid chain, the third largest U.S. national pharmacy chain. Rite-Aid was recently sold to Walgreens for $17.2 billion.

The chain plans to sell about 1,000 items to start off with, Haaretz reported, and has already closed deals with manufacturers to make appropriately-sized versions of generally more expensive items. Most of the brands will be recognizable to Israelis, but will include items that are generally not considered luxury brands. Thus, the stores will not sell internationally-licensed brands like Head and Shoulders and Pantene among its shampoos, but will sell Israeli brands like Pinuk, Hawaii and Neka 7.

It’s not clear if the pharmacies will actually sell prescription drugs, but if they do, the report said, those pharmaceuticals will not be covered by the NIS 10 plan. Most medicines sold at pharmacies are sold based on prescriptions from health funds (kupat cholim), and those medicines are already subsidized, generally costing NIS 15 or less.