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Pharmaceutical distribution: an essential distribution chain

Little known by the general public, pharmaceutical wholesale distributors play an essential intermediary role between pharmaceutical laboratories and pharmacists. Without companies like us, pharmacists would have to order drugs and health products from more than 500 suppliers. This would be very difficult to manage.

Pharmaceutical wholesalers give pharmacists the opportunity to order all their products (branded drugs, generic drugs, medical devices, general pharmacy products, etc.) through a single intermediary.

In France, the pharmaceutical distribution industry is subject to strict regulations. Prices are regulated by public authorities according to the French Public Health Code. The entire business is governed by a guide to good distribution practices. This means that many constraints are imposed on those who are part of this industry.

While being authorized to purchase drugs, hold stocks, and sell and distribute products, distributors are also subject to various duties governed by regulations when it comes to serving the public.

At the heart of the drug supply chain
The impressive availability of products and standards within French pharmacies is the result of a long development of the French healthcare system. This began at the start of the 19th century. At that time, many pharmacies set up businesses and had "specialist" products. Doctors increasingly prescribed these and many advertisements promoted their benefits. Patient consumption increased significantly and during the nineteenth century, the demand was so high that it became virtually impossible to meet the needs of the market by manufacturers selling directly to pharmacies. Therefore, “distributors of special medicines and pharmacy products” came into being, as a trade. This helped manufacturers (often also acting as dispensing pharmacies) who lacked the means of proper product storage, shipping, and delivery to all pharmacists in France. Wholesale distributors ship 70% of the product batches dispensed in cities (by volume). The remaining 30% are delivered directly by laboratories to pharmacies through direct sales.
Powerful nation-wide organization
As an essential link in the pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical distribution means that each patient has their medicines available every day no matter where their local pharmacy is. This is achieved through a safe, fast, and reliable service. In France, the pharmaceutical distribution sector provides 12,000 jobs across more than 180 pharmaceutical establishments. Although this type of set-up exists in all countries across the world, the way in which the pharmaceutical distribution market is organized, the regulations enforced by public authorities, access to care, customers, and competitors are specific factors for each country.
A structural crisis
Since 2018, 7 main companies account for 95% of the market. The vast majority of pharmaceutical distribution is carried out by only a few operators. This is due to the highly onerous requirements for entering this profession (the need to be authorized by ANSM, OSP, etc.). Rather low profit margins tend to discourage new operators from entering the market. Pharmaceutical distribution operates around the principle of equal tariffs. This means that the profit margin for distributors is the same, no matter what type of drug they are transporting and no matter where the final delivery point may be. The associated costs are not taken into account. In practice, this means that the products and areas that cause financial losses for distributors are subsidized by revenues gained from other products or regions.
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Our two main activities: pharmaceutical distribution and services to pharmacists

With nearly 100 years of experience, today, OCP is far more than a simple pharmaceutical distributor.

Every day, OCP distributes 2 million boxes of drugs and healthcare products to its 14,000 pharmacies and 2,000 hospital pharmacy customers throughout France.

From managing stocks to meeting delivery deadlines, our job is to supply pharmacies by providing them with simple and rapid 24-hour supply solutions under optimal safety and quality conditions. Our expertise enables meticulous, rigorous, and serious order preparation to deliver the health products needed by each patient, while ensuring equal access to medical treatment throughout the national region.

OCP is in constant contact with pharmacists and offers innovative solutions to meet the needs of our pharmacy customers, helping them in the face of ever-increasing competition.

Product availability

Maximizing access to drugs and ensuring treatment compliance

Purchasing and service solutions

Strengthening the competitive edge that pharmacies have. Offering support throughout a pharmacy’s entire life-span.

Digital Solutions

Making the most of digital and technological opportunities

Funding for pharmacies

Ensuring the territorial network of pharmacies

OCP provides dispensing pharmacists with numerous services and financing options to support them during the life-span of their dispensary, whether they’re setting up for the first time, developing a project or carrying out refurbishment work…

Thanks to the Link digital platform, the experience of managing a pharmacy on a daily basis is greatly enhanced (simplified purchasing and performance monitoring, easier patient monitoring, making the most of managing the pharmacy team, etc.). OCP Training also offers certified professional training courses led by experts.

As the leading distributor in France and a subsidiary of the international McKesson group, one of the world leaders in the sector, OCP harnesses the skills and expertise of its employees to ensure better health for everyone on a daily basis.

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OCP plays a critical role in the healthcare sector by delivering health products that everyone in France needs on a daily basis.
As a leader in France, OCP is a distributor of products and health services that offer high added value to pharmacies and healthcare centers.
Every day, we contribute to better health.

OCP

© 2021 - OCP Répartition

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