Pharmacists, medics stay their course

Pharmacy owners in Attica and Piraeus will continue refusing customers medicine on credit unless they pay the full amount in cash, they said Wednesday, despite assurances earlier in the day by Deputy Health Minister Michalis Timosidis that they would be given the money owed to them by social security funds.

For consumers, this means that they will have to pay the full price of their medications on purchase and then claim the money from their social security funds by submitting their prescriptions along with the pharmacists? receipt. Some social security funds can take up to three months to pay.

According to the Attica and Piraeus pharmacists? associations, the terms of the payback of the 400-million-euro debts run up by social security funds on prescription medications are not acceptable as it will take too long for them to recoup their losses.

?We are no longer in a position where we can extend credit, not even for one more day,? the head of the Attica Pharmacists? Association, Constantinos Lourantos, told Kathimerini Wednesday.

Pharmacists were on strike on Monday and Tuesday over the arrears as well as a government decision to trim their profit margin on sales.

Meanwhile, doctors at IKA, Greece?s largest social security foundation, also said yesterday that they will continue their protest action, following a four-day work stoppage this week over concerns that a newly established national healthcare provider is a threat to their jobs.

IKA doctors, who may be joined by doctors with private practices, want assurances from the Health Ministry that the new healthcare body, EOPYY, will not restrict their right to see patients and issue them prescriptions. The ministry has given them several assurances to this end, but none in writing.

The board of the union representing IKA doctors is due to meet today to discuss when and for how long they will go on strike.

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