After doctors and nurses, pharmacists in turn denounce an increase in assaults. In 2022, 366 were declared by these health professionals, according to the latest report of the National Council of the Order of Pharmacists, revealed by the JDD and consulted by Le Figaro.
This figure is lower than the years 2021 (427 assaults) and 2020 (584 assaults), marked by Covid-19 and its masks, tests and vaccines. If 2022 sees a decrease in the number of violence, "they have still increased by 17% compared to 2019, before the health crisis," says Carine Wolf-Thal, president of the National Council of the Order.
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These figures would be underestimated. "Unfortunately, not all pharmacists report the assaults they suffer due to lack of time, weariness and discouragement," explains the president of the Order. In 2022, only 35% of pharmacists filed a complaint following their assault, compared to 44% in 2021.
"Great fear", "anguish"...
Theft, insults, verbal or physical threats... Attacks against pharmacists are diverse and multiplying. In addition, 5.4% of them are associated with the use of a knife or firearm. Of all the assaults, 13 of them led to work stoppages, up to 15 days of ITT.
But why this violence? Refusal to dispense medication is the main cause of verbal or physical aggression (94 cases out of 366), informs the study. "When a pharmacist detects a fake prescription, he will systematically refuse to dispense the product," says Carine Wolf-Thal. This frequent procedure concerns painkiller treatments for people struggling with addiction or against a background of drug trafficking.
The President of the Order raises another, more societal, reason for this increase in violence. The year 2022 was marked by a shortage of molecules and drugs such as amoxicillin, doliprane, cortisone... These ruptures would have generated "great fear" and "anxiety" among patients, also noted Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Pharmacists' Unions, one of the main unions in the profession.
I remember a mom panicking. She had a prescription for amoxicillin and doliprane for her baby and I didn't have any more. We spent an hour finding a solution," he says. Thus, the French would be more angry with the "system", and pharmacists "remain sadly the first accessible against whom to turn", decrypts Carine Wolf-Thal.
Faced with these attacks, which take place mainly in municipalities of less than 30,000 and 5000,<> inhabitants, pharmacists are "helpless", deplores Pierre-Olivier Variot. Carine Wolf-Thal recalls that "protocols exist, in connection with the prefectures and the police who offer training". In each pharmacy, "deterrent video surveillance systems" and "anti-aggression alarms" allow professionals to quickly reach the police. For some on-call pharmacies, patients must go through the police station to be authorized to go to the pharmacy. However, this "filtering" that forces to decline his identity and address disappears little by little because many police officers do not wish to take on this responsibility, regrets Pierre-Olivier Variot.
To fight against violence, the Order of Pharmacists and the unions are demanding concrete measures, without wanting to turn pharmacies into "bunkers", says Carine Wolf-Thal. Among them, "put in place exemplary sentences that are more dissuasive", for example. Also, in order to encourage and help pharmacists to report their assaults, "the police could go to pharmacies to register the complaint".
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To these demands, the Ministry in charge of Health Professions assures to provide answers very soon. Minister Agnès Firmin Le Bodo launched a mission on January 30 and heard the Orders of Health Professions, including pharmacists. A report will be submitted "in the coming days". He will present a plan that "will fight against violence against health professionals, both in the hospital sector but also for those working in the city," announced the ministry to Le Figaro. This plan will be presented "before the summer" and will deploy "short-term measures to respond to immediate situations, but also in the long term to fight in depth against this increase in violence".