Greeks skip prescriptions, poll shows

One in four Greeks gets prescription medicines over the counter from pharmacies, bypassing their doctors, while three in 10 claim to have been unable to find the medicines they need due to shortages, a new study has shown.

According to the study carried out by the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine last month, 25 percent of respondents take medicines without first obtaining a prescription. Most (67 percent) of those who went straight to the pharmacy said they were not asked whether they had any allergies or physical ailments that would rule out certain drugs.

Many doctors complain that it is illegal for pharmacists to issue prescription drugs. But the Health Ministry is reportedly planning to combat drug shortages by allowing pharmacists to sell substitute medicines.

Yiannis Tountas, head of the National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF), said such a move could be a solution. ?Offering substitute drugs will help EOF to tackle shortages in the market,? he said.