From drug dealers to “health hub”, the metamorphosis of pharmacies


Vaccination against Covid-19, in a pharmacy in Nantes, March 25, 2021.

At the Alliance pharmacy in Grenoble, Christine Le Fournier, 67, does not hide her enthusiasm. “I watched the new missions arrive with wonder. This is a very nice recognition of our role and our usefulness in public health.rejoices the pharmacist. Our profession tended to move away from being a caretaker and becoming essentially a merchant. »

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Established for thirty-five years in the Capuche-Alliés district, 2 kilometers from the historic heart of the city, it has taken ” head on “ these new attributions of the pharmacist. “Our teams have been trained in vaccination, screening and conducting pharmaceutical interviews. We have also coordinated with the other health professionals in the region, doctors, nurses, midwives, to work in harmony”she explains.

His pharmacy is now one of the few pharmacies in France – around 1,500 to date out of the 21,000 in the territory – to have set up interviews for pregnant women. These exchanges, intended to make future mothers aware of the risk associated with the consumption of teratogenic substances during pregnancy, have been carried out by pharmacists for a long time. But until now, they took place at the counter, informally.

Since November 7, 2022, they have been recognized as acts in their own right, framed by a detailed roadmap, and remunerated by Medicare in the form of fees. They are part of the batch of new health missions gradually entrusted to pharmacists in recent years. The Pharmagora pharmacy fair, which was held from March 11 to 12 in Paris, was an opportunity for the profession to draw up an initial assessment of the deployment of these missions.

New mode of remuneration

The beginning of this shift took root over the last decade. Faced with falling drug prices, pharmacists are concerned about the future of their pharmacies. Because their turnovers are, at that time, dependent, their remuneration based on a percentage of the price of the box of drugs sold. “Every time we advised a patient to take only one box instead of four, we were shooting ourselves in the foot. We no longer considered ourselves credible.recalls Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of community pharmacists.

Faced with the looming economic impasse, the profession is stepping up to the plate. With the public authorities, a reflection is carried out to find a new economic model. “We had only two solutions to get out of it: switch to fee-for-service, like all health professionals, or model ourselves on the Anglo-Saxon model and become managers of drug supermarkets”, explains Philippe Besset, president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France. Reluctant to be reduced to mere “box dealers”pharmacists opt for the former.

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