A European acquaintance once pointed out to me, with a mix of condescension and wonder, “The United States is the only nation where you can buy cigarettes in a pharmacy.” Not that Europeans have been leaders in the anti-smoking movement. Quite the contrary; they’re still the world’s heaviest smokers. But part of their heritage is professional autonomy. As the German pharmacists' association website explains:
In Germany, only pharmacists may operate a pharmacy. This principle guarantees the proper pharmaceutical supply of the population. The ban on third-party and multiple ownership stresses the personal responsibility and liability of self-employed pharmacists in the healthcare sector. It separates the pharmaceutical supply from companies' exclusive intention to maximize return.
As recently as 2007, there was strong resistance to filling prescriptions in supermarkets and other chain retailers. Yet Europeans can’t resist the cornucopia that is the big American general-merchandise establishment. Le Drugstore in Paris, found in 1958, has a staff of 180 and sells everything from cosmetics to small luxuries, alcoholic beverages, and gourmet meals. And it now includes an actual pharmacy, too.