Strikes in France: protests to close many pharmacies this week

Medicine shortages, online sales and a perceived lack of government support has lead to a day of action

Outside of french pharmacy lit up at night - on-duty pharmacies remain open during strikes
Emergency pharmacies will remain on-duty during the strike
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Pharmacists in France are to stage a one-day strike this week in protest at medicine shortages, a perceived lack of government support and the availability of over-the-counter drugs online.

The May 30 strike is expected to see up to 90% of pharmacies close in some areas, in what for many will be the second strike of the month.

Read more: Pharmacists set to stage national strike in France

The discontent of French pharmacists has been growing for some time, in particular due to:

  • Shortages, which reportedly affect around 4,000 drugs

  • Pharmacy closures - around one a day so far in 2024

  • Online sales of over-the-counter drugs

  • A perceived lack of support from the government

The Union des syndicats de pharmaciens d'officine (USPO) pharmacists’ union is calling for all their members to close on May 30 as is the Fédération des pharmaciens d'officine. 

“The date will be crucial in convincing the political authorities and the [French public health authority] Assurance Maladie,” states the USPO website.

The pharmacists’ unions have also planned protest marches in many cities, including Toulouse, Marseille, Grenoble, Bordeaux and Nice

However, as pharmacies can be owned by either private individuals or local, regional or national firms, it is difficult to gauge how many will heed the call to strike.

In some areas, up to 95% are expected to be shut according to industry website

France has a huge network of around 19,500 pharmacies, which in some communes represent the last commerce still open. However, the number has been falling consistently by around 300 each year since 2020.

Read more: 16 things you can do at a French pharmacy other than buy aspirin 

On-duty pharmacies will remain open

People who need to buy medicine during the one-day strike will be able to go to the pharmacie de garde, or on-duty pharmacy, in their area.

You can find a pharmacie de garde here, or by calling 3237.