The union leader spoke at a workshop on e-commerce at the 72nd congress of pharmacists, organized over the weekend by the FSPF, the Association of Rural Pharmacy (APR) and the International Technical Union. -Pharmaceutical Continuing Education (Utip).
Philippe Besset said he had been consulted during the summer on this project, then informed in September by the minister's office that a bill will be tabled in early 2020 to set a new framework for the online sale of medicines.
This proposal "was the subject of a dialogue between the ministries, Bercy and the Ministry of Health, following the consultation with the profession and arbitrated by the Prime Minister," he said.
The text will allow the pooling of resources and will allow pharmacies to group together to simplify online sales, with information systems around groups, said the president of the FSPF, which could only consult the project before the consultation.
"We, trade unions and the order of pharmacists, have given our comments in a unitary way in relation to this project.The cabinet of the Minister (solidarities and health, Agnès Buzyn, ed) told us that the project resumed the proposals progress of the profession ", explained Philippe Besset APMnews (information site of the group APM International which is part of TICsanté) at a press conference on October 20.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced at the beginning of March that he had asked Agnès Buzyn to open a site for the online sale of medicines in order to develop this activity, which is still confidential, it is recalled.
The current regulatory regime is the result of the transposition of a European directive of 2011. It authorizes the opening of a sales site only if it is backed by a physical pharmacy. The storage rooms of products must be located "near the pharmacy within the limits of its neighborhood", and the advertising and "enhancement" of the products on the websites concerned are completely prohibited.
All of these restrictions limit the development of French e-pharmacies. According to figures presented Saturday at the congress of pharmacists by Dimitri Guillot, director of strategic and professional partnerships of Iqvia, 750 websites are listed as online pharmacies and parapharmacies in France, including 583 e-pharmacies (out of a total of 21,000 physical pharmacies).
They achieved a turnover of 162 million euros for the year 2018. "It is estimated that it will be 185 million in 2019," said Dimitri Guillot. Of this amount, 22 million, or approximately 12%, are made on medicines with marketing authorization (MA). This market segment experienced a 20% decrease in 2018, while the sale of online parapharmaceutical products increased by 10%.
In April, the Autorité com la concurrence noted in an opinion on the distribution of the drug that the French legislative framework was too restrictive to allow a real development of the market for online sales. According to her, this gives an advantage to sites based in neighboring countries.
Only 2.3% of pharmacies have an online pharmacy and e-commerce represents only 1% of total sales of optional medical prescription drugs (PMF), the only drugs with marketing authorization that could be sold on the internet, had the Authority.
To ease the regulatory framework, the institution recommended allowing pharmacies to consolidate their offer of online sales on a common site.
It is also pushing for more regulation of storage space and greater room for maneuver in online advertising, including the use of paid search and online comparators.
It also advised to adapt to the specificities of online sales the threshold of turnover beyond which a titular pharmacist must recruit an additional assistant pharmacist.
The Ministry of Solidarity and Health and that of the economy and finance seem to have retained the first part of the proposal of the Competition Authority, which aims to allow pharmacies to pool their resources.
"We keep in this structure the desire that online sales be tightly framed, be it backed by a physical pharmacy without a secondary warehouse", commented Philippe Besset, who however felt that "the strategy of the FSPF", which is to "allow all pharmacies to have a digital extension", "is not this device".
In the coming months, the union will highlight among its members an offer developed by the resopharma technical concentrator organization offering pharmacies to have a digital showcase on an application and the website lepharmacien.com.
The portal will include practical information about the pharmacy, including its geolocation. The pharmacy will also have the opportunity to own a personalized website. The latter will allow the patient to remit his prescription and order medication for PMF or PMO (mandatory medical prescription), from his prescription. He will have to pick them up at the pharmacy within two days of the order, on the "click & collect" model.