Prescription medicines are subsidized for consumers by the Health Ministry, but when it comes to non-prescription drugs, Israelis pay full price — at a handsome profit for the drug stores that sell them. A report on Channel Two showed that the large pharmacy chains in Israel were reaping profits of tens, and in some cases more than 100 percent, on the sale of over-the-counter drugs.
Among the examples in the report: A 16-pill package of Advil sells for NIS 32 retail, but costs drug chain Super-Pharm just NIS 14, a markup of 129 percent; Nasal spray Otrovin goes for NIS 33 retail at Super-Pharm, but costs the chain NIS 13.84 wholesale, with the retail markup 138 percent; Israeli-made pain killer Acamol to Go costs drug chains NIS 8.36 wholesale, but when it gets to the retail shelf, it sells for NIS 19.20 — a markup of 138%. Dozens of other OTC drugs and treatments are sold at similar markups, according to the report.
The Health Ministry sets a maximum price for OTC drugs, although the drugstores are not required to charge those prices. Nevertheless, on many OTC drugs, the chains choose to charge the maximum prices, although they are far above the wholesale prices.
In response, Super-Pharm said that it sold OTC drugs “at the supervised price as permitted by the Health Ministry, similar to other pharmacy chains and independently owned businesses.” The Nu-Pharm chain said that it, too, sold its products at the prices approved by the Health Ministry, and that “prices were constantly updated in response to changing market conditions.”