Belgium has currently 5,111 pharmacies or one pharmacy per 2,212 inhabitants. The trend has been slightly downward since 2012 when there was one pharmacy per 2,128 people according to figures delivered by the Minister of Social Affairs in response to a written question from MP Philippe Goffin (MR).
In the past, Belgium had one of the densest pharmacy networks in Europe but a law from 1974 stipulated that new pharmacies can only be opened on the basis of geographical and demographic criteria. This measure slowed the growth in the number of pharmacists but without curbing an over-supply.
In 1999 a ban on new pharmacies was introduced and pharmacies can only be established after approval by the Council of State. Only three new pharmacies were identified in Belgium between 2012 and 2016. Thirty-eight closures were counted over the same period and 43 businesses merged.