Board of Directors of the Zur Rose Group stands resolutely behind CEO Walter Oberhänsli
Public prosecutor of the Canton of Thurgau files charges against Walter Oberhänsli in connection with mail-order of non-prescription drugs and electronic prescribing
The Kreuzlingen public prosecutor filed charges against Walter Oberhänsli in his capacity as CEO of the Zur Rose Group. The charges are based on a report of a criminal offence lodged by Pharmasuisse and relate to two separate issues: mail-order distribution of non-prescription drugs and rewarding doctors for issuing electronic prescriptions between 2010 and 2015. The Board of Directors vigorously rejects the accusations made against its CEO and has announced it will support Walter Oberhänsli unreservedly in fighting the charges made against him and protecting his integrity.
Mail-order distribution of non-prescription drugs
In 2011 Zur Rose launched a safe, efficient and cost-effective mail-order distribution service for non-prescription (OTC) drugs. An independent company specialised in telemedical patient consultations was responsible for issuing doctors' prescriptions. On 29 September 2015 the Federal Court ruled that the mail-order retailing of non-prescription drugs as practised by Zur Rose and approved by the Cantonal Pharmacist was prohibited by law. Zur Rose stopped the mail-order distribution of OTC drugs that same day. The practical impact of the ruling by the Federal Supreme Court is that a doctor's prescription issued on the basis of contact in person with a doctor is always required for the mail-order distribution of all pharmaceuticals. This applies even to medicines that can be sold without a prescription by any bricks and mortar pharmacy or chemist's, such as Bepanthen ointment, Kamillosan mouth spray and Voltaren gel.
Cooperation with doctors to promote electronic prescribing
Zur Rose is a pioneer in introducing electronic prescriptions. It did so around 20 years ago, well before the launch of electronic patient records had become standard. Unlike paper prescriptions, electronic prescribing leaves no scope for interpretation, cannot be forged and increases patient safety. Many patients, especially the chronically ill, those with mobility challenges and the elderly, also want the cost-effective Zur Rose mail-order pharmaceuticals service, which delivers the medicines ordered to their home. Doctors who prescribe electronically make an important contribution to cheaper, safer and more efficient mail-order distribution. Zur Rose rewarded these doctors appropriately for their efforts. The rest of the savings under this distribution model (over 80 per cent) benefited health insurers, and hence those who pay premiums, in the form of reductions. Unlike bricks and mortar pharmacies, Zur Rose does not charge for customer record and medication checks and also grants discounts. The cumulative savings achieved for the healthcare system as a whole over the last decade amounted to roughly CHF 100 million. Nevertheless, on 7 July 2014 the Federal Supreme Court banned Zur Rose from rewarding doctors for entering prescription data electronically. Zur Rose stopped these rewards that same day.
As the contested business activity was already discontinued five years ago, the Zur Rose Group rules out an impact of the proceedings on the current business performance.
Board of Directors stands unreservedly behind its CEO
"Zur Rose has always seen itself as fighting for a way of supplying medicines that is modern, safe and keeps down costs, and it continues to do so," says Professor Stefan Feuerstein, Chairman of the Board of Directors. "This legal attack on our CEO by groups seeking to hold back technological change with all its undisputed benefits simply in order to defend their own individual business interests - and this five years after the activity in question ceased - is something I find grotesque. All the more so as the cantonal authorities and courts had previously repeatedly classified what our CEO did as permissible. Walter Oberhänsli is an outstanding entrepreneur of the highest integrity; we will protect his good reputation in every respect."
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Zur Rose Group
The Swiss Zur Rose Group is Europe's largest e-commerce pharmacy and one of the leading medical wholesalers in Switzerland. It also operates the leading marketplace in southern Europe for consumer health, beauty and personal care products commonly sold in pharmacies. The company is internationally present with strong brands, including Germany's best-known pharmacy brand DocMorris. Zur Rose employs more than 1,800 people at sites in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and France. In 2019 it generated revenue of CHF 1,569 million (including medpex) and has around seven million active customers in core European markets.
With its business model, the Zur Rose Group offers high-quality, safe and cost-effective pharmaceutical care. It is also characterized by the continuous further development of digital services in the field of drug management using AI-supported applications and new technology. Zur Rose is furthermore actively driving ahead its positioning as a comprehensive provider of healthcare services. By creating a digital healthcare platform - the Zur Rose ecosystem - it networks products and digital services from qualified providers. The contribution made by Zur Rose will be to take these offerings to customers and patients and to make a relevant selection. The aim is to provide people with a seamless accompaniment and empower them to manage their own health optimally using products and digital solutions.
The shares of Zur Rose Group AG are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (securities number 4261528, ISIN CH0042615283, ticker ROSE). For further information please see zurrosegroup.com.