Healthcare chief asks pharmacists to call off strike

The head of Greece?s main public healthcare provider has called on pharmacists to cancel the strike they have planned for Thursday, ensuring them they will receive the money they are owed by the organization.

Speaking to Skai TV on Wednesday morning, the head of the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY) Gerasimos Voudouris said he did not understand why pharmacists are going on strike as EOPYY has agreed to pay them the money they are owed for prescription medicines over the next few days.

EOPYY was set up earlier this year when most of Greece?s social security funds merged to form a central healthcare provider. Pharmacists argue that a number of these funds still owe them money that is separate to EOPYY?s dues.

?There is a limit to the delays and promised we can accept,? said the head of the Piraeus pharmacists? association Constantinos Kouvaris.

EOPYY is due to launch on Monday a system requiring doctors to write the active ingredient in drugs they prescribe to patients so they can be issued with cheaper generic medicines in an effort to reduce Greece?s drugs bill by 1 billion euros.

The scheme was due to be launched this week by EOPYY but due to a series of technical problems and the fact that doctors had not familiarized themselves with the system, it was put off for a few days.

Doctors will have to write the brand name of the drug as well as the active ingredient, which is also available in generic drugs.