Pharmacists and pharmacy students are angry. The unions are therefore calling for demonstrations this Tuesday, in Paris and in a dozen other cities, to demand the rapid opening of collective bargaining negotiations in order to "compensate for inflation" and for the implementation of a long-awaited reform of studies.

Organized by the National Association of Pharmacy Students of France (Anepf) and supported by several representative organizations, including the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France (FSPF) and the Union of Pharmacists' Unions (USPO), marches are planned in Bordeaux, Grenoble, Nancy and Nantes. In Paris, demonstrators will march from the Faculty of Pharmacy of Paris-Cité to the Ministry of Health in the early afternoon.

Too long a wait, according to the unions

"We have been waiting for seven years for a reform of the third cycle of studies, which is necessary for the attractiveness of the sector. At the same time, we've been waiting four months for the opening of collective bargaining negotiations, and we, students and pharmacists, have decided to support each other," explains Philippe Besset, president of the FSPF, the leading pharmacists' union. "The government doesn't question the interest of these issues, but it procrastinates and it becomes unbearable," he adds.

For the time being, the unions are not calling for a strike or the closure of pharmacies, but to join the marches and make this mobilization visible, in particular by means of posters in pharmacies and a petition. The poster represents the lowered curtain of a pharmacy to alert on their economic difficulties and the risk of medical desertification, explains Philippe Besset, ensuring that "25 pharmacies" close every month since the beginning of the year and that France has lost 4,000 pharmacies from 2007 to 2023, to 20,000 pharmacies today.

FSPF wants an additional billion euros

As part of the collective bargaining between the health insurance system and pharmacists – which, according to the profession, is slow to open – the FSPF is asking for an additional billion euros for the upcoming budget to be able to increase salaries, in the wake of inflation. According to a joint press release from the organisations, the sector has 120,000 employees in pharmacies.

Students, for their part, want to see "advance" the reform of the third cycle, which should provide them with more attractive study conditions, with an improvement in allowances for internships, transport or accommodation in medical deserts. According to Anepf, in two years, nearly 1,500 places (1,027 in 2022 and 471 in 2023) have remained vacant at the beginning of pharmacy studies, at the end of the first more general year of health studies.

Without a reaction from the government, "the movement will harden," USPO president Pierre-Olivier Variot has already warned.

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