Düsseldorf (dpa) – Germany’s pharmacists look to the future with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they are desperately looking for staff or successors for their operations, on the other hand, a new law is creating hesitant optimism in the industry German Pharmacists ‘Associations (Abda), Gabriele Regina Overwiening, in Düsseldorf at the start of the German Pharmacists’ Day, an industry get-together with around 300 delegates from different parts of the country.
It is about the so-called on-site pharmacy strengthening law, which came into force at the end of 2020 and is intended to give the industry a clear framework for future business. An important part of the law is payment for pharmaceutical services. This means, for example, that a pharmacist sits down with a patient and gets an overview of the multitude of medications that he takes regularly – then, for example, interactions can be ruled out. Since patients are prescribed medication by different doctors, the pharmacist would offer himself as a central interface, argues the Abda.
Negotiations with the health insurance company on the question of which services are paid for and how have so far produced no result . An arbitration board should now bring clarity. The start of these pharmaceutical services is planned for January 2022.
E-prescription moves the industry
A second topic that moves the industry is the e-prescription. The usual little notes from the doctor should also be history at the beginning 2022, at least as a rule – instead, the patients should receive QR codes. The redemption of prescriptions should therefore be lifted into the digital age. For pharmacies and medical practices, not only is there a technical feat of strength ahead, but the solicitation of customer favor is getting tougher – after all, the e-prescription could be an upswing for pure online competition, i.e. for mail order companies such as Docmorris and Shop Apotheke.
However, after seeing a doctor, the quickest way for people to get their medicines is in stationary pharmacies, after all they have to wait for them to be sent when they order online. In addition, many on-site pharmacies have long been involved in online trading. “We are ready for the e-prescription,” said Abda boss Overwiening and emphasized that advice and education are extremely important when it comes to medication – and according to her, this is a trump card for stationary pharmacies even in the age of e-prescriptions. “Medicines must not be trivialized and ordered like Smarties on the Internet.” According to an Abda survey, 41 percent of German pharmacists assume less loyalty to regular customers as a result of the electronic prescription. This is a large proportion of the 500 pharmacists questioned, but compared to the previous survey from the year 2020 this is a better value – at that time even calculated 55 Percentage with a weaker bond with regular customers when the digital prescription comes. Seen in this way, the concerns of on-site pharmacies have at least partially smoothed out.
Number of pharmacies continues to fall
Meanwhile, a trend continued: The number of pharmacies in According to Abda, Germany fell in the first half of the year by 162 to 18. 591. That corresponds to a minus of almost one percent. In the year 2008 it was still about 21. 600 pharmacies – then went it’s going downhill.
The number is currently the lowest it has been in nearly four decades. In the year 1982 there was a total of 377 Pharmacies in the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR and thus fewer than in Germany today. It’s about business premises – i.e. main pharmacies plus branches. The decline affected almost all federal states, only in Bremen and Saarland the number of pharmacies remained constant in the first half of the year a pharmacist wants to retire. Regarding federal politics, she said that she expected “a clear commitment to the local pharmacy” for the coming legislative period. “Then young pharmacists can also be inspired to take over a pharmacy in the country and improve the supply of pharmaceutical services there.” She reported about her own pharmacy, which is located in the rural area. Finding staff there is also difficult. If someone applies there, she is “very happy”.