NEWS

EOPYY debts to be paid ?in a week?

Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos promised on Tuesday that the country?s largest healthcare provider, the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY), would make good on its debts for April by next Thursday and urged pharmacists to stop their freeze on credit to patients insured with the organization.

Speaking after talks with senior officials from the Finance and Labor ministries and from the health sector — including EOPYY head Gerasimos Voudouris, the president of the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association Theodoros Ambatzoglou, and the director of the Social Security Foundation Rovertos Spyropoulos — Lykourentzos appealed to pharmacists to halt a 35-day protest that has caused serious problems for patients trying to procure medication, particularly costly drugs for serious ailments such as cancer.

During the meeting, it was decided that 125 million euros would be released gradually from Thursday until next Thursday to cover EOPYY?s debts to pharmacies for prescriptions issued in April. The organization has already serviced half of its debts for that month.

The minister also referred to some 270 million euros in older debts racked up over the past few years by funds within EOPYY, noting that these arrears would be paid off ?according to the law and in due course.?

According to sources, top officials at the Health and Labor ministries have proposed that these older debts be cleared using funding from Greece?s international creditors — a suggestion unlikely to be well received by the lenders. Another proposed solution would be to tally up the debts against the tax obligations of the pharmacists.

Ambatzoglou, who represents pharmacists at a nationwide level, told Kathimerini that he welcomed the minister?s move, adding however that pharmacists would wait to see the pay order for the outstanding April dues before they decide to call off their action.

The action was called off in Piraeus last week, leading to hundreds of people lining up outside local pharmacies to buy their medicine on credit. Their Thessaloniki counterparts have also lifted their boycott.