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3/6/2019 - Posted in  Pharmaceutical Affairs

Compensation by government for on-call pharmacies

Our expert's opinion

Pharmacies that work on-call outside of the normal opening hours will now get a compensation from the government for their service. They used to charge a supplement (up to 5 euros) for products sold outside of the normal opening hours. Yet, on-call pharmacies that didn't service any customers during the night, would not receive anything extra for their work.

The Belgian government wants to tacke this injustice by giving the pharmacies a compensation for the prescription-drugs only, as they are linked to real emergency cases. In consequence, the mark-up clients used to pay will vanish, except for non-emergency products.

Do you think this is a step in the right direction?

- Alaana Pirolo, Associate Consultant

No more on-call pharmacy fees for prescription medicines

The government is to abolish the supplement paid for having a prescription filled out of hours by an on-call pharmacy, federal health minister Maggie De Block has announced.

At present pharmacies who are on call outside of normal opening hours can charge a five-euro supplement on prescription medication. De Block, herself a physician, wants to do away with the extra charge, and will come up with government funding to compensate pharmacists.

Pharmacies take turns in providing out of hours coverage in their local area. Normally, any given pharmacist is on call for a week, with lists of local participants posted on every pharmacy as well as online in French or Dutch. The supplement is intended to compensate pharmacists for night duty, for which they are not paid, and do not receive time off in lieu.

“On-call pharmacists sometimes have no customers at all during the night, so they receive no compensation. Soon that will no longer be the case,” De Block said.

The pharmacists' federation stresses that the on-call service is only for genuine emergencies, and not for customers looking for toothpaste or after-sun cream. Anyone who tries to buy non-prescription goods regardless of that advice will still have to pay a supplement; the change only applies to medication prescribed by a doctor, such as a locum or accident and emergency physician, De Block said.

In return, De Block has set aside eight million euros of public money to compensate participating pharmacists. A proposal was approved this week by the parliament's public health committee.

 Source: Brussels Times

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