Athens pharmacies holding out

Shortages of medicines at pharmacies in Athens are to continue for at least one more day after pharmacists decided to continue to refuse to provide drugs on credit due to the failure of social security funds to settle their debts.

The Attica Pharmacists’ Association is due to meet Tuesday to decide whether to continue with its protest action and if so for how long. Speaking to Kathimerini Monday, the head of the association, Constantinos Lourandos, said that pharmacists have yet to receive the money to cover prescriptions issued in April.

The National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY) had promised to pay out half of the money pharmacists were owed for April but Lourandos said that Athens pharmacies had only received 28 percent of what they were due. This amounts to 18 million euros rather than 30 million.

However, as of Monday, 28 of the 54 pharmacists’ associations around the country had called off their protests. In most areas outside Athens, pharmacies have received half of the April money they were promised.

This has led to the Panhellenic Pharmacists’ Association calling on its members to end their action. “EOPYY was obliged to pay the amount for April by June 25,” the association said in a statement. “The fact that we were paid a significant amount earlier is extremely positive. We will monitor the situation and return to action if EOPYY proves not to be punctual.”

The group also called on its members to provide details about the money they are owed by social security funds so it can file a complaint with the European Commission to protest the delays in payment. EOPYY and the funds whose healthcare services have been incorporated under the umbrella organization owe roughly 250 million euros to pharmacists. This includes some prescriptions from last year that have yet to be settled.

The protest by pharmacists means that some drugs have only been available at the limited number of pharmacies run by EOPYY. 

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