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Nation's first mixture of pharmacy/convenience store opens

South Korea's leading convenience chain said Monday it has opened the country's first-ever drug store-type shops that incorporate pharmacies into convenience stores.

The new type of stores was set up after the South Korean government passed legislation in May to allow sales of some non-prescription drugs at convenience stores and supermarkets.

Two CU stores run by BGF Retail Co. have opened in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, where a shop has two sections, with each part being reserved for a pharmacy and supermarket, the company said.

The pharmacy section operates from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., while the convenience store section runs around-the-clock, it added.

"We came up with the new concept after consistent such calls from small-sized pharmacists who are struggling to survive after the passage of the new law and the mushrooming of large-sized pharmacies," company official Min Seung-bae said.

Consumer groups have long called for non-pharmacy sales of over-the-counter drugs, but pharmacists strongly objected, apparently out of concern they could lose a major source of income.

The pharmacists argued that supermarket sales of medicine could lead to drug misuse and abuse.

"The new type of stores will be helpful both for reviving the sagging local economy and for enhancing customers' convenience," he said, adding the company will set up the new-type stores in more cities nationwide. (Yonhap News)
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