In the event of a shortage in pharmacies, the executive wants to make the sale of certain antibiotics individually compulsory

The government wants to make it compulsory to issue certain antibiotics individually in the event of a shortage, according to information published on Wednesday September 20 by Franceinfo and Agence France Presse (AFP), of which Le Monde obtained confirmation

In the event of a shortage in pharmacies, the executive wants to make the sale of certain antibiotics individually compulsory

The government wants to make it compulsory to issue certain antibiotics individually in the event of a shortage, according to information published on Wednesday September 20 by Franceinfo and Agence France Presse (AFP), of which Le Monde obtained confirmation. The entry into force of the measure will depend on the passage in Parliament of the social security financing bill, which is due to begin at the end of the month.

This decision could also help reduce waste by delivering the exact number of tablets prescribed, in a country where the consumption of antibiotics remains among the highest in Europe and which was faced last winter with shortages of amoxicillin, a antibiotic commonly used in certain bacterial infections.

This project leaves pharmacists perplexed: they wonder about the practical arrangements and point out a traceability problem. “Cutting the blisters [packaging shells] is not the right answer. In terms of batch number traceability, it’s a real hassle,” Pierre Olivier Variot, president of the union of community pharmacists’ unions, recently estimated to Agence France-Presse (AFP). The packaging of pharmaceutical products is governed by strict standards.

Single sale was trialled in France between November 2014 and 2015 for around ten antibiotics in 75 town pharmacies. The experiment was carried out by the National Institute of Health and Medical Research. Following this experiment, the principle of single dispensing of certain medications, notably antibiotics, was enshrined in law in 2020 and the system made possible from 2022.

Pharmacy diagnostics

On the delivery of antibiotics, the government also wants to allow patients to obtain a diagnosis in pharmacies in the event of suspicion of tonsillitis or cystitis, then possible treatment without a prescription if the rapid diagnostic aid test proves positive.

The executive seeks to tackle drug shortages on several fronts: relocation of the production of drugs deemed essential, review of the prices of certain molecules, or even better stock management.

In an interview with the economic daily Les Echos on Wednesday, the Minister for Industry, Roland Lescure, made a gesture towards the pharmaceutical industry by announcing a cap on the financial contribution that laboratories must pay to Health Insurance when their turnover exceeds a given threshold. But in the event of a cessation of production of one of the 6,000 drugs of major therapeutic interest, "the State may ask the company to cede the exploitation of the drug free of charge for two years" if there is no has no buyer, he added.