Portugal’s national pharmacies’ association has launched in for less than two weeks a public petition advocating a legislative programme for the pharmaceutical sector, to prevent the closing of pharmacies in a more difficult situation and to ask for equality for all Portuguese people’s access to medicines.

According to the association’s data, 679 pharmacies are at risk, with lien and insolvency proceedings, which represent almost 25% of the 2,900 pharmacies in Portugal.

Portalegre, Guarda, Santarém and Setúbal are the districts with 30% or more of pharmacies at risk.

By signing on Friday, the petition “Save Pharmacies”, physicians and pharmacists said that “they subscribe to the concerns of the promoters of the initiative, who warn against difficulties experienced by the pharmacies and for the problems related to medicines outages.”

According to the petition, 64 million packs of medicines were reported in out of stock in pharmacies last year.

“Austerity over the medicine sector cannot be eternal. It is urgent to save the pharmacy network,” according to the petition.

However, on Thursday, the country’s medicines authority, Infarmed, announced that it would intensify the inspection to the medicine circuit to detect any failures, after carrying out 400 inspections of pharmacies and distributors last year.

In a statement sent to Lusa, the authority said that in the 2018 inspections, some “issues related to medicine shortages” were identified, but “no situation that would justify intervention.”