Pharmacies protest about aggressive customers and ‘drug shortages’


Het Gooi, home to some of the richest neighbourhoods in the Netherlands, may not have the country’s happiest pharmacists.

According to the NOS, 24 stores have closed their doors on Wednesday for a morning of protest at the aggression they experience from their customers.

‘A colleague from Weesp was recently hit in the face because a certain drug brand was no longer covered by insurance,’ Bernadine Armbrust, a pharmacist from Hilversum, told the NOS Radio 1 Journaal.

She said her protest had a dual function: to ask clients to behave differently, but also to ask insurers and politicians to take note of the effects of limited supplies of insurance-funded medicines in the Netherlands. ‘There was already a lot of frustration among clients because brands were no longer covered and they would then have to switch,’ she added. ‘But then you also get drug shortages.’

Gerben Klein Nulent, chair of the KNMP pharmacists’ trade association, told the NOS the frustrations are not only in Het Gooi. ‘Screaming, threats and hitting have become daily events, and we find this unacceptable,’ he reportedly said. His organisation found that last year, medicines were not available for 769 prescriptions.

Zorgverzekeraars Nederland told the NOS that it was not responsible for client frustrations. ‘Shortages are an international problem, and the causes are outside the Netherlands,’ it reportedly said. ‘It’s not about the coverage policy of health insurers as the demonstrating pharmacists suggest.’

Earlier this year, a ‘just be nice’ (‘doeslief’) campaign also claimed that 8% of public transport workers are spat at each year, and 72% of traffic wardens regularly ‘get the middle finger’. Posters from this campaign were displayed in the windows of at least one of the protesting pharmacies.

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