NEWS

Standoff continues between pharmacists, gov’t

Attica and Piraeus pharmacists said on Tuesday that they will continue refusing to dispense medicine on credit at least until Friday when they are due to meet to decide whether to continue their action, as the health minister and the head of the national healthcare provider EOPYY threatened them with sanctions unless they desist, Skai has reported.

Pharmacists of the two powerful unions have said that they will not fulfill prescriptions until they are paid the arrears due to them in returns from the country’s social security foundations, especially OPAD, the fund that covers public sector workers, and OAEE, the fund for the self-employed.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Monday called their action «unionist activities that defy all ethical boundaries,» adding that he was prepared to scrap all collective agreements between social security funds and pharmacists’ association and introduce individual contracts instead if the pharmacists did not change their stance.

Loverdos also said that an agreement has been reached with social security foundations to pay back their arrears to pharmacists, and that IKA, the country’s largest fund, and OPAD settled their debts last Thursday.

Speaking on Skai television on Tuesday, however, the head of the Piraeus pharmacists’ union, Constantinos Kouvaris, denied that OPAD has paid up and added that unless that fund and OAEE made some kind of settlement, the stalemate will continue.

Speaking on the same program, EOPYY president Gerasimos Voudouris reiterated the health minister’s threat to scrap collective contracts, saying «not everyone has money to pay for their medication. We will no longer tolerate this inexcusable situation.”

Voudouris also called on the Panhellenic Pharmacists’ Association, which oversees regional unions, to deem the Attica and Piraeus groups’ action a breach of contract and to order pharmacists to dispense medicine on credit.