"Our core business is to advise and help – not to sit at a desk," says pharmacy spokesman Christopher Hummel. © Arp
If you are dependent on medication, you should already have it on your radar: On Wednesday, June 14, you will probably be standing in front of a closed door at the pharmacy you trust.
Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen – Christopher Hummel, spokesman for the pharmacies in the district, announces that both he himself and probably most of his colleagues will take part in a nationwide day of protest. Their shops will be closed for one day for this reason. "It's sad," explains the pharmacist, who runs the Michaeli pharmacy in Gaißach and the spa pharmacy in Bad Heilbrunn. "Actually, we don't want to go down this drastic path." However, the framework conditions for his profession have deteriorated to such an extent that one feels "forced" to do so. The day of protest is intended to show citizens and politicians "what would happen if pharmacies were no longer there to the same extent".
In the county, some pharmacies will close in the coming years
According to Hummel, there is already a relatively low density of pharmacies in Germany. "On average, 100,000 inhabitants are supplied by 32 pharmacies in Europe, and 22 in Germany." Statistically, one or two pharmacies close every day in the Federal Republic. At first glance, the world in the district is still in order. Hummel estimates that there are 25 to 30 pharmacies in Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen. However, he knows from many of them that the owners have actually already reached retirement age and are looking for successors. "The situation will change dramatically in the next few years," Hummel fears.
Poor framework conditions "destroy a great job"
There will probably be more and more communities that are left without pharmacies. "Especially in rural areas, we will have a huge problem caring for the people." In Hummel's view, the fact that fewer and fewer young people are taking the plunge into self-employment with their own pharmacy is due to the poor framework conditions. "A great profession is simply destroyed," he says.
The pharmacy closures on June 14 are officially not a "strike", but a "day of protest". As with a strike, however, it is also a question of wages. In the case of prescription drugs – which make up a large part of the business, according to Hummel – pharmacists are paid a flat rate per pack dispensed. The amount set out in the Medicines Ordinance has not been increased since 2013. "Instead, at the beginning of the year, even a cash discount was raised, which means an annual additional expense of 6000 euros for an average pharmacy," says Hummel. "That was a huge slap in the face." The Bavarian Pharmacists' Association is now calling for an increase in the fee from the current 8.35 euros to 12 euros per pack.
Difficulties in settling accounts with the health insurance companies
Hummel also refers to the increased workload of pharmacists. During the Corona pandemic, they made an important contribution by producing disinfectants, distributing free FFP2 masks to vulnerable groups and issuing vaccination certificates. Currently, they are struggling with supply bottlenecks for various medicines. All of this must be acknowledged and rewarded.
In particular, Hummel calls for the abolition of a special procedure, the "zero retax". According to Hummel's description, it can happen that health insurance companies refuse to pay for medication if the prescription contains a small formal error – at the expense of the pharmacy. "Today, recipes worth 10,000 to 15,000 euros are part of the day-to-day business," says Hummel. "We are at enormous risk."
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Emergency service on June 14
Last but not least, he complains about the "immense bureaucracy" that pharmacists are burdened with. "Our core business is to advise and help – not to sit at a desk." He appeals to his colleagues in the district to participate as united as possible in the day of protest. He wants to prepare customers for the day of closure with sufficient advance notice so that they can get any prescriptions they may need beforehand and redeem them. If, however, it becomes very urgent on the day of the protest, a supply is guaranteed via the emergency service window of the pharmacy on duty.
You can find even more up-to-date news from the region at Merkur.de/Bad Tölz.