Come aprire una parafarmacia, iter e consigli

How to open a parapharmacy, process and advice

The health sector is a fantastic industry to work in, and it’s a business that has been growing significantly in recent years. People are increasingly attentive to what they eat and how they stay in shape.

And we’re not just talking about medicines and pharmacies in the strict sense but also parapharmacies.

What is a Parapharmacy and What is Needed to Open One?

A parapharmacy is a retail outlet that combines the competencies and advantages of a pharmacy, herbalist shop, perfumery, organic products store, and supplement shop.

The range of products that can be sold inside is vast. It spans from over-the-counter medicines to dietary supplements, cosmetics, natural products for sports or diets, but also herbal remedies, superfoods, functional foods and foods for intolerances, infusions and teas, infant nutrition, personal hygiene products, and related items.

There are different types, from independent ones to franchise chains, but how do you open a parapharmacy? With what qualifications?

First, it largely depends on an initial choice, that is, whether you want to sell self-medication medicines in your parapharmacy—those that do not require a medical prescription. Prescription medicines can only be purchased in a pharmacy. Alternatively, you can choose to sell only non-pharmaceutical products.

On this point, it is important to remember the regulations: according to current laws—the Bersani Decree of 2006 first and the Legislative Decree 201/2011 later—the owner of the parapharmacy does not necessarily have to be a pharmacist, as long as there is a person registered with the Order of Pharmacists among the partners or employees, who will be responsible for communication and drug traceability.

Besides the necessary educational qualifications, you will obviously need to follow the standard bureaucratic process, which includes:

  • Opening a VAT number.

  • Registering with the Business Register.

  • Notifying the start of activity to the local municipality.

  • Opening necessary positions with INPS and INAIL.

  • Obtaining a permit to display the sign.

  • For selling medicines, registration with the Ministry of Health, obtaining the drug traceability code, the title of responsible person for drug communication and traceability, and registration with the Order of Pharmacists and the Drug Agency.

For selling functional and specific foods, such as those for intolerances and infants, a specific certificate, a license for food commercialization, will also be required.

Tips and Considerations for Opening a Parapharmacy

Once the administrative and regulatory process is completed, you need to carefully study the operational side to make your business effective.

Here are 5 essential topics for setting up a successful store:

  1. Evaluate the Right Location: Choose a location with good foot traffic and preferably not too close to similar outlets like established pharmacies or herbalist shops to avoid excessive competition.

  2. Choose Furnishings and the “Personality” of Your Store: This aspect is much simplified for those opting for a franchise since the basic furnishings are generally provided by the brand owner.

  3. Select Products and Suppliers Carefully: Making a precise one-by-one selection brings great satisfaction and a very accurate and personalized range of references, while relying on a distributor can be excellent for optimizing time and billing.

  4. Think About Providing Additional Services to Your Customers: For example, personalized consultations or small periodic events to meet nutritionists or hold cosmetics sessions can help build customer loyalty.

  5. Consider the Idea of Digitizing Part of Your Work: Complementing the physical store with an e-commerce site can expand your reach.


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