Loss of attractiveness of the profession, lack of personnel, inflation… The future of the pharmacy network worries pharmacists. Gathered as an inter-union organization, the profession launched a call for a national day of action, on Tuesday, November 21, in order to alert the public and the government to the difficulties encountered by the sector.
This mobilization, which brings together students – the 24 faculties of pharmacy in the region and their deans responded to the call – and community pharmacists, must be the opportunity for a “convergence of struggles” between aspiring professionals and their elders.
Students will march in the streets in around ten cities to demand the implementation of the reform of the third cycle of pharmacy. Promised by the government seven years ago, the latter, which provides for an increase in internship compensation, should make it possible to revitalize the attractiveness of an increasingly deserted sector. “Over the last two years, 1,500 places have remained empty on university benches. These are all health professionals who will be missed when they leave while our missions at the pharmacy are more and more numerous”deplores Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Community Pharmacists’ Unions.
An additional flashing red light, at a time when the financial situation of the pharmacy network, another major issue in this mobilization, is wavering. Pharmacists are indeed alarmed by a deterioration in the economic conditions of the 20,500 pharmacies in the region, increasingly strangled by the increase in costs, particularly salaries, under the effect of inflation.
With 75% of their turnover coming from the sale of medicines covered by Social Security, and whose prices are regulated by the State, the profession has little room for maneuver to compensate for the rise in drug costs. structure, estimated by the unions at more than 15% in 2022. At the same time, the exceptional income linked to the carrying out of Covid screening tests has dried up with the ebb of the pandemic. “We are caught in a crisis and can no longer make ends meet. It is urgent to overhaul the pharmacy economy”notes Philippe Besset, president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France.
Like his colleagues, he has been watching since the beginning of autumn for the arrival of the framework letter from the Ministry of Health, which should mark the start of conventional negotiations between Health Insurance and the profession. Promised before the end of the year, these discussions are intended to establish the operating conditions and remuneration of the pharmacy network for the next five years. But the missive is long overdue. “The State does not seem to be in a hurry to start them even though they are vital for us. More and more pharmacies have negative cash flow and are weakened. More than 30% had to request additional payment terms from their suppliers”worries Laurent Filoche, president of the Union of community pharmacist groups.
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