French pharmacists launched their first walkout in 10 years on Thursday, closing up shop over drug shortages, pharmacy closures and fears medications could be sold online, as well as higher pay.

After poster and email campaigns to warn of the closures in recent days, patients were set to find around 90 percent of pharmacies across France closed for the day, with every single one in some regional towns shutting their doors.

Local authorities have requisitioned some locations to ensure legally-required minimum coverage.

Professionals say they are just as concerned about drug shortages, rural closures and training reform as about pay and conditions.

"The biggest worry is vanishing pharmacies" which face economic hardship in rural areas and sometimes even in towns and cities, said Philippe Besset, president of the FSPF pharmacists' union federation.

Around 2,000 pharmacies have closed nationwide in 10 years, leaving around 20,000 in operation, trade bodies say.

Unions are calling for higher pay from next year as inflation blows up their costs, ahead of talks next week with France's national health insurance authority.

Beyond the walkouts, pharmacists plan demonstrations in many towns nationwide as well as a central protest in Paris, where a march will run through the capital's south from the pharmacy school to the economy ministry.

A major sore point concerns suspected government plans to make it easier to sell over-the-counter medications online.

"All the ingredients are in place to kill the network" of pharmacies across France, which employ a total of 130,000 people, said Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the USPO pharmacists' union.

Marc Feracci, an MP for President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party, told AFP that easier online sales were "under consideration" but that people should "keep their heads".

The government would not endanger pharmacists' drug monopoly, he insisted.

"Nothing will be opened up to big supermarkets nor will medications be added to Amazon," Ferraci said.